Sitting down one evening in a college classroom nestled along the central coast of California, we met with Julia Freifeld, the founder of Jewels for Change, to listen to her story. Even before the end of our conversation, we knew this young woman's mission, driven by her own life experiences, was a cause too pure to ignore. Right then, Aspire Gear wanted to help bring to life the inevitable impact Julia will make on the lives of others.
We have the proud privilege of introducing Julia's Jewels for Change organization to our wonderful community to bring greater awareness and resources to a topic that is close to our members' hearts. Sexual violence.
Please enjoy our conversation with Julia!
Why was Jewels for Change started?
In my first week of college, two of my closest friends were sexually assaulted. The pain and helplessness I felt in the face of such evil was tragic and sobering. I decided to dedicate my life towards learning about and preventing sexual violence.
Soon after, I began an internship as a crisis counselor through a nonprofit organization called RISE. By working one-on-one with survivors, I quickly understood how imperative it is to have immense resources and support available given the desperation survivors feel after enduring such traumatic events.
Unfortunately, our full-time counselors have six week waiting lists before they can add more clients, and our safe shelters are fully booked 10-11 months out of the year. This means that if a person is in a crisis situation where they need to escape a perpetrator, it’s unlikely they will have the option to do so.
This discrepancy between the incredibly beneficial impact such organizations provide and the deficit in funding for them is what inspired me to start Jewels for Change.
What is Jewels for Change's mission?
My goal is to generate funds for educational programs to be implemented into high schools, and to fund the purchasing of more safe houses and hiring of more crisis counselors. Feeling alone and helpless is detrimental to the strength and resilience of a survivor of sexual violence, but with Jewels for Change every survivor will get the help they need to build a beautiful new life.
What was the inspiration for your sexual violence awareness necklace?
I wanted the sea glass to be close to the heart, thus the necklace was born. Ultimately, I strive for Jewels for Change to depict empowerment and community which we can feel through our heart as represented by the necklace physically close to the heart.
In the future, I do want to offer other forms of jewelry since I know not everyone wears necklaces. However, I wanted to start with the necklace because it is the most sentimental to me since it is closest to the heart.
What is the meaning behind the necklace?
Every piece of jewelry is hand crafted to evoke a unique experience and to represent the community of support and empowerment that we aim to create.
We use teal sea glass to symbolize the color of sexual violence awareness and wrap each gem with durable sterling silver wire to capture the love that surrounds the unbreakable spirit of all survivors. The glass originates from pieces of broken bottles, tableware, or even shipwrecks and is then rolled and tumbled in the ocean for many years until it appears on shore as a glistening reminder that our resilience and perseverance are what shapes us into beautiful souls.
How will the sexual violence awareness necklace impact others?
We are proud to donate a portion of the proceeds to organizations that work with survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse, and hope that wearing this necklace makes you feel supported and empowered. Specifically, the portion of proceeds from these necklaces will be benefiting RISE (in San Luis Obispo, California), an organization I am actively involved with and I know will carry out the mission of Jewels for Change.
A word from Aspire Gear
To help Jewels for Change make a larger impact, Aspire Gear will be offering a limited number of Sexual Violence Awareness Necklaces to our customers. Since each necklace is handmade one at a time by Jewels for Change, the necklaces will be sold on a first come first serve basis. We are hoping you are as inspired as we are by the beautiful mission and necklace Julia has put together. Click here to view the Sexual Violence Awareness Necklaces!