Guest Blogger: Dee Fraser, Manager of Partnerships and Operations for Charity by Design, on Making A Difference with Living Water International

How would your life be different if you lacked access to clean drinking water? Our Charity by Design partner, Living Water International (LWI), knows the tragic effects first hand, which is why they’re committed to creating access to safe drinking water in developing countries. Through sales of our Living Water Charm Bangle, we are able to support their mission and will soon even get to see our dollars at work.

In the story below, Dee Fraser, Manager of Partnerships and Operations for Charity by Design, discusses how our relationship with LWI continues to grow and flourish and has even lead to a mission trip to Guatemala in June with some very special guests.

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Through Charity by Design, Alex and Ani has had the opportunity to partner with Living Water International. This was a very unique relationship for Charity by Design as Paige Dellerman, a former student at East Greenwich High School in Rhode Island, was the inspiration behind this partnership. Paige was challenged to choose an area of study of interest to her and that she could learn more about. With a significant passion for LWI and wanting to learn more about the Alex and Ani process of creating a charm and knowing the mission of Charity by Design, Paige decided to bring both organizations together to help create the Living Water Bangle!

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Tatienda Dimingu, a student in Epworth, Zimbabwe, wearing the Living Water Charm Bangle.

In February 2013, as a way to revamp our relationship with Living Water International and pay special focus to the impact of water on women, we launched the Living Water for Women. As of April 30, 2014, Alex and Ani has raised over half a million dollars. We are very proud of this relationship and all that our partner has been able to do through fundraising.

Outside of creating the bangles to support the organization, we always look for fun ways to engage our employees so that they embrace the mission and vision of LWI. In December of 2013, Charity by Design hosted a Living Water International contest held throughout our nationwide Alex and Ani retail locations.

The contest encouraged the retail teams to promote the Living Water Bangle and the $5.00 gift card where customers could choose the location in Central America their donation went to support. LWI graciously offered the individual winner, myself, and Paige an all-expense paid trip in 2014 to Central America to help dig a well and educate the surrounding village about clean water initiatives.

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Alyssa Pontone from Alex and Ani Red Bank.

We were so excited when we found out Alyssa Pontone from our Redbank, NJ location won the contest and we chose to travel to Antigua, Guatemala to see the mission work that the bangle helps support. It was a goal for me in 2014 to go on a mission trip and it so happens that I was selected to join this wonderful group this year. Talk about everything happens for a reason! I will be travelling with Alyssa and Paige and we will be joining a team of seven (7) made up of a drilling team and also a hygiene team, which will be educating the village about this clean water initiative. Alyssa, Paige and I are excited to be on the drilling team where we will have the opportunity to drill the actual well in the village!

My story goes back to when I went to Immaculate Conception High School in Jamaica. I went through high school with great grades but nothing really peaked my interest until the 12th grade when I took an economics course. To me, poverty and lack of education were, and still are, complicated problems that can be broken down and solved. I remember always asking myself, after I read a chapter or completed an assignment in class, why can’t people just implement some of these practices? Then, I saw myself visiting different countries and places that have individuals facing these issues and wondering “how can I help to make a difference?” My vision was to build partnerships with citizens, businesses, and government agencies for, in best terms…the better good.

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Our Charity by Design team with the Living Water International team.

I remember, some days when my exams ended early or I was leaving from my summer job, I would take the bus home. Sometimes I would get in an explorative mood and take a bus or taxi that I had never taken before to a part of Jamaica I had never been (unbeknown to my parents). To this day they still think that I don’t know how to take a bus in Jamaica. Most times I ended up in some of the most poverty-stricken areas of Jamaica, which allowed me to see the issues and challenges of my country first-hand. I realized at 16 years old that giving money to one person or donating clothes would help but would not make THE difference in the life of these communities. It would take something bigger, and this is what drove my passion to make a change. This is what attracted me to Charity by Design at Alex and Ani. This is why I am so passionate about working with the numerous non-profit partners through this department. This is why I am excited that I was selected to go on this trip to not only learn and experience a new culture, but also to see how building a well will positively impact the community. This is why I am honored that I will be a part of making this experience THE DIFFERENCE.


The above video was created for us by LWI in honor of our partnership.

This post was written by Brendon Cunha