My family (which includes 6 gorgeous and amazing kids, onevery old and tired dog, and my curmudgeon husband) live in Saugus.
Serendipity Lights actually came to life when I realizedwhat “Serendipity” meant, and how the things in our lives are soSerendipitous.
We are a faithful family, and we believe in paying itforward.
I began transforming empty bottles about a year ago, as ameans of raising funds for The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. I have been a team captain in the past,for our church, and I loved the idea of raising money to fight back againstcancer, so that my own kids could potentially live in a world where cancer iseasily eradicated, or cured.
Our “cause” is childhood cancer, and until thispast July, fighting childhood cancers felt like a noble cause to fight.
In July, our 15-year-old daughter Sarah had a routinesurgical procedure, and 3 days later she was rushed to the hospital with severepain in her neck.
I was sure she had an infection from her tonsillectomy,until the doctors at Henry Mayo assured me that there was no infection, andthat her neck was full of tumors that had apparently awakened when the tissuein her neck had been exposed to oxygen.
It sent our family spiraling.
We had no health insurance. My husband had been ondisability for almost 3 years at that point, and Sarah’s biological fatherprovides no support or healthcare for my 3 oldest kids.
I have learned the hard way that when it comes to yourchildren, you have to fight with everything you have, and some things you don’thave.
We began the tedious process of navigating “thesystem”, searching for answers. Nobody wants to tell you that your child is ill, and they certainlydon’t want to be the ones to tell you that they are ill with “The BigC” monster.
I am a full-time student.
I am a mom.
I am an artist.
I am NOT an entrepreneur.
Well, I didn’t think I was.
I neglected the shed full of empty bottles I had beencollecting from local bars and restaurants, and tended to my daughter. Christmas came so quickly that I wasill prepared. In fact, we only had$.18 in our checking account.
I realized that the entire time I was scrambling to make adifference for Relay, and fighting to get answers for my sick daughter – whohas been home on medical leave from school since the 2nd day of classes lastyear – that I had forgotten about Christmas.
On December 21st I began to really panic. I called anycharity I could find for help, hoping to find some kind of token to give eachof my children, after all, it had been such a rough year for us all, I reallywanted them to feel appreciated. Everyone sacrificed something so we couldsupport Sarah, and I was absent for days on end to be near her in the hospital.I left so many things up to God, and now I really felt like I had stumbled. Iwas about to really disappoint my kids.
Someone, in my hasty phone calls, suggested that I contactBobbi Jean Bell, owner of Outwest on Main Street in Newhall.
I am not sure how I was supposed to approach her, but I knewthat I had about 30 bottles decorated in my closet and they could earn money ifsomeone was interested in a last minute hostess or Christmas gift. My plan justthe week before was to decorate more bottles and take them to the Speedway forthe Sunday Swap Meet. Mother Nature had other plans, as we were inundated withrain and I just couldn’t take bottles filled with electrical wire and lights toan outdoor venue to sell.
I suppose this is where our new, dearest friend Bobbi Bellcame into the picture. I calledher and introduced myself.
I explained my situation, keeping in mind that she owned aretail store, and it was the busiest time of the year, and she invited me tocome down and show her a bottle or two.
Blindly, I rushed down and brought a basket full of bottlelights, “Spirit Bottles”, and she already had shelves cleared for us.
Bobbi helped me display my bottles – every one of them, andinvited me to return the next day for the Thursday Farmer’s market on MainSt. I am not sure what I expected,but the next day I returned to her shop and could not help but smile.
Three of my bottles had sold.
As I looked around, I realized that her store isamazing. More than that, she andher husband Jim Bell are amazing. What sweet, kind and brilliant people theyare. She calmed me, she encouragedme, and she welcomed me in just moments.
I was able to recoup some of the money we’ve invested in ourbottles. Money that helped bring gifts to my tree on Christmas morning. While there on that Thursday evening,we witnessed true Christmas spirit. She introduced us to the owners at Pulchella Winery, and most of thesurrounding businesses. And sheasked me to return with more bottles.
She spent her Christmas weekend on her computer at home,editing pictures and listing our Spirit Bottleson her store website.
Serendipity Lights is just a by-product of necessity.
Our mission was to fund Childhood Cancer Research andtreatment.
Our mission was to pay it forward.
I had no idea that this little venture would evolve into asmall business that allowed us to meet such amazing people, and that we wouldfeel such a strong sense of community just by trying to raise awareness.
This cause has become far more personal for us.
Our relay team is officially named “Serendipity”,and now I realize that we have had good fortune in making unexpecteddiscoveries.
Thank you for asking who we are. The nuts and bolts of “SL” are my husband and I,who stalk storeowners and beg them for their empties.
Pulchella is an amazing label and we love their wine, aswell as who they are. Steve andMegan and Nate and Jennifer, have offered us their empty bottles, and graciouslydisplayed two of my Spirit Bottles in their tasting room.
My husband drills out and cleans each bottle, expertly, Imight add. My teenaged daughtersSarah and Emily help with their little sisters, and the practical elements ofthis little business. They aremaster “ribboneers” and know their way around hot glue and raffiabetter than anyone I know. Mymother in law, Rene, is my biggest cheerleader, and collects funny bottles fromher Grammy Club on Poker Night.
I know that readers probably weren’t expecting this lengthystory, but for once I feel as though we are doing what we are made to do, and Iam so proud.
(To purchase a wine bottle, to learn more about them, or foran update on Sarah, you may e-mail Kari at email@example.com)