Organization provides help to women in transitional housing

Editor’s note: During each Chips Quinn orientation and multimedia training in Nashville, Tenn., scholars are required to complete a mobile media reporting module, which includes producing videos and reporting and writing stories. Their work is displayed here.

By Olivia Peterkin

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On a hot spring afternoon on lower Broadway, tourists crowded the sidewalks and the smell of smoked barbecue was thick in the air. Amid the hustle and bustle, a few doors down from the renowned Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, was a small wooden cart with a pale green umbrella and a sign bearing the words “Guitar String Jewelry, Strings for Hope.”

Strings for Hope, a Nashville-based nonprofit organization, helps women in transitional housing facilities support themselves. As part of the program, these residents of halfway houses such as The Next Door and Mending Hearts create bracelets and rings out of used and sometimes broken guitar strings that local musicians, guitar shops and the occasional stranger with strings to spare have donated.

Shay Law stands by Strings for Hope cart on Broadway in Nashville, Tenn., in May. (Photo by Olivia Peterkin)

The Next Door is a transitional home for women who have been arrested or imprisoned for alcohol and drug related offenses. Another organization, Mending Hearts, is also dedicated to having a positive impact on the lives of women who struggle with addiction and are at risk for homelessness.

To sell its products, Strings for Hope partners with local businesses, including Honey Girl, Tennessee Chic and Ensemble.

Shay Law, an aspiring tattoo artist from Lebanon, Tenn., is one of a few employees who operate the stand on Broadway. “Strings for Hope currently works with two women’s halfway houses,” Law said. The women “make these bracelets, and we compensate them for it so that they have an easier time through their transition. We also partner with organizations to raise money for hospitals, food [and] schools.”

The bracelets cost $22 to buy, and $5 from each bracelet goes directly to the woman who made it. The rest of the proceeds go toward philanthropic projects in Kenya and Honduras, as well as to some of the operational costs of the charitable organization. The women in the halfway houses take classes in which they learn how to repurpose the guitar strings and create different wearable designs.

Shay Law helps customers try on bracelets made from guitar strings in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Olivia Peterkin)

The newest director and CEO of Strings for Hope, Emily Winters, a 20-year-old Nashville native, has rebranded the organization as she reaches out to local organizations and works to increase sales.

Strings for Hope’s methods are eco-friendly because guitar strings are made of mixed media metal — which means they can’t be recycled.

Strings for Hope also makes it a priority to participate in community events, such as selling jewelry at the sausage festival in Nashville last May.

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