Leah Gernetzke
smART

Our Mission:

smART is an art education program that teaches impoverished Honduran women who have experienced domestic abuse how to make and sell jewelry. Our workshops aim to equip the women with a lifelong skill, which in turn empowers them to generate a sustainable income to support themselves and their children, and ultimately untethers them from cyclical poverty and dependency on their abusers. In addition to creating alternative employment opportunities, we also believe art education has the power to unlock creative thinking skills, which in turn has the potential to help the women heal emotionally and psychologically from past traumatic experiences, as well as foster positive new ways of thinking, creating, and communicating in daily life.

Volunteer:

smART is always looking for volunteers to join our team! If you are interested in volunteering, email us at smarthonduras15@gmail.com and tell us more about why you would be a good fit. We are looking for social media gurus, jewelry designers, English teachers, artists, and people with great attitudes and good hearts.

Donate:

smART depends on donors like you to provide educational services to at-risk and impoverished women living in rural communities of Honduras. We would greatly appreciate any financial help you may be able to provide. Every penny helps!

Our Partners:

We partner with Designs by Abroad, a jewelry design company created by smART founder and director Whitney Coyle as an entrepreneurial platform to support the smART cause. Currently, Coyle designs all of the jewelry in the Designs by Abroad line, and provides a percentage of her profits directly back to smART. However, in October 2015 the smART team will travel to Las Hermitas and Cedros Abajo to begin hosting jewelry design workshops for women. smART will then market and sell the women’s finished products online through Designs By Abroad. All sales made through Designs by Abroad will provide fair wages to the artists, and enable smART to expand to other communities.

smART also partners with The Heart of Christ, an organization that provides refuge to women who have suffered from domestic violence, abuse, and rape. smART will work together with the employees and victims at the The Heart of Christ’s safe home to mitigate poverty through alternative employment opportunities.

Who we impact:

smART is working with two groups of women in Honduras: a group of women in Cedros Abajo, an impoverished community outside of Tegucigalpa, and a group from The Heart of Christ’s women’s home in La Ermita. The smART team will travel to the communities in Honduras in October 2015 to begin teaching workshops in basic jewelry design to the two groups, and will expand into other nearby communities after this initial launch.

About:

Why Honduras?

Honduras is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with nearly two-thirds of the population living in poverty. Because of its political instability, impoverished living conditions, and high levels of corruption, along with associated violence and crime, the country has recently experienced a mass migration. Lack of employment, especially in rural areas, is also resulting in Honduran citizens risking their lives to flee in order to escape their current living situations.

Extremely impoverished conditions have a direct correlation to high domestic violence rates in the country. Because rural areas have higher rates of poverty, women residing in these areas fall victim to the effects of unfavorable economic conditions. smART, an art education program that teaches at-risk and impoverished Honduran women how to make and sell jewelry, is aiming to change that. Our workshops will equip the women with a lifelong artistic skill, which in turn will empower them to generate a sustainable income to support themselves and their children, and ultimately untether them from cyclical poverty and dependency on their abusers.

Our timeline

In October 2015 the smART team will kick off their art education initiative in Las Hermitas and Cedros Abajo. In addition to hosting workshops, smART will market and sell the women’s finished products online through Designs By Abroad, a jewelry design company created by smART founder and director Whitney Coyle as a platform to support the smART cause. Sales made through Designs by Abroad will provide fair wages to the artists, and enable smART to eventually expand to other communities.

Currently, Coyle designs all of the jewelry in the Designs by Abroad line, and provides a percentage of her profits directly back to smART. However, in January 2016, jewelry created by the participants of smART will be for sale on the Designs By Abroad website.

In-country partnerships

smART also partners with The Heart of Christ, an established organization that provides refuge to Honduran women who have suffered from domestic violence, abuse, and rape. Through its art education workshops and partnership with The Heart of Christ, smART hopes to mitigate poverty in rural communities of Honduras, offer an alternative education, and provide a sustainable income for women. As well as creating tangible economic opportunities, we also believe art education has the power to unlock creative thinking skills, which in turn has the potential to help the women heal emotionally and psychologically from past traumatic experiences, as well as foster positive new ways of thinking, creating, and communicating in daily life.

What we’re doing:

The smART team, which includes founder and director Whitney Coyle and a team of four volunteers, are traveling to Honduras in October 2015 to launch workshops that teach basic jewelry design to women in the Las Hermitas and Cedros Abajo communities. We’ll be working alongside our in-country sponsorship organization, The Heart of Christ, which works to rescue women, children, and elderly and disabled individuals from domestic violence, and to provide a safe refuge and rehabilitation services for these victims.

We will be working with two groups of 8-10 women, conducting classes several times a week to:

• Encourage creativity as a tool to help the women heal emotionally and psychologically from past traumatic experiences

• Offer a safe space to bond with peers and share stories

• Empower the women to learn a new skill

• Set goals and encourage entrepreneurship

• Use acquired artistic skills to create a sustainable income
Once the women have mastered the basic design techniques, we will buy and sell their jewelry through our partner organization, Designs by Aboard, a jewelry line that acts as a sales platform and funding source for smART. Proceeds from all Designs by Aboard sales will provide fair wages for smART participants, and continual funding to expand smART into other communities in the district.

Currently all jewelry on the Designs by Abroad website is made by jewelry designer and director of smART, Whitney Coyle. However, in January 2016 jewelry made by the participants of smART will be for sale on the Designs By Abroad website.

Donate:

Make a donation

smART depends on donors like you to provide educational services to at-risk and impoverished women living in rural communities of Honduras. If you are interested in making a donation, you can do one of three actions:

1.) Visit our in-country sponsorship organization’s website http://www.heartofchristhonduras.org/donate. If donating through The Heart of Christ, follow the instructions given, but please be sure to include “smART” on the subject line of checks or paypal donations so the funds are properly allocated to our project.

2.) Donate to our partner business, Designs by Abroad, via Paypal and be sure to include “donation” in the subject line.

3.) Write a check payable to:

Heart of Christ/smART
PO Box 14431
Huntsville, AL 35815

Include smART in the subject line.

As always, if you would like to make a purchase from http://designsbyabroad.com, a portion of the proceeds from all sales will go directly to smART.

For information about tax deductions or any other questions you may have, please contact us via email at whitney@smarthonduras.org.

We would greatly appreciate any and all the help you may be able to provide. Every penny helps!

Also, if a fiscal donation isn’t feasible for you, we are always looking for volunteers! See our volunteer page for more information.

Where does your donation go?

Donations made to smART will go toward paying the participants’ wages, supplying materials necessary to complete design projects, and providing room and board expenses for smART’s volunteers.

Get involved:

smART is always looking for volunteers. If you would like to get involved, fill out the contact form to the right or contact smART at smarthonduras15@gmail.com. Include why you want to be a volunteer, what you think you can contribute, why you are interested in our cause, and a little about yourself.

Please feel free to contact us with questions or to request further information. We appreciate your interest in smART!