#realtalkfriday Gems for Gems


Every Friday, we learn about a new ‘real life’ topic that people endure in everyday life. There are so many serious subjects that need to be discussed openly with access to help (if needed) so we can continue to create a better future for the future generations. Many people feel like they are alone which is not the case. Many people suffer behind closed doors that we don’t know about.

Our goal for this platform is to help Canadians read about positive outcomes no matter what the situation is.

For this Friday’s #realtalk, we interviewed a great brand that focuses on the empowerment of women: Gems for Gems. What a great and inspiring program to support! As a survivor myself, (CEO) I am so happy to see that help like this exists.

SOP: Please explain “Gems for Gems” and what this business does?

GFG: Gems for Gems works exclusively with women who have suffered from abuse to give inner strength, show them they are not alone and are very much cared for. We work to ‘Empowers Women to Empower Themselves’ and in doing so, aim to end the cycle of abuse with all involved (the women and their children). Our three initiatives have garnered huge success to date, measured by testimonials from the women in the shelters, the employees and the overwhelming success with the interactive programs.

We believe to end the cycle of domestic abuse, each woman we work with must find and connect to the hero within themselves. Every woman has the strength to change their path yet so often they have lost sight of that inner power. Gems for Gems inspires and empowers these women and through that process, we reawaken their drive to tap into their inner fire.

SOP: What are your initiatives and explain them.

GFG: We have our Christmas Jewelry Drive, our Zero To Hero Series, and in 2018 we will begin our Gems for Gems Scholarship Program which will be a huge focus and is set to expand across Canada within a few years. Each one of our initiatives are designed to inspire, move and create at least the spark of change. Our scholarships will be awarded to highly motivated women after an application and interviews take place.

In the correct hands, the scholarships are a true life changing experience and honoring the donations being given with that at heart is of high importance to us. More information on the programs below:

The Christmas Jewelry Drive: The women of Canada have been working with Gems for Gems for the past three Christmas’ through donating gently used jewelry. The Gems for Gems team collects, cleans packages and gives packages of gifts to the women in these shelters as a gift from the women of Canada. We include a note to explain where the jewelry has come from, that we see their struggles, they are not alone and that they are ‘Gems’ no matter what. Each year the response has been fabulous. The ladies are so touched and the shelters now have come to expect this and love the heart warming experience of seeing the reactions.

The Zero to Hero Series: These take place once a month in Calgary and move from shelter to shelter. The premise of these events are to show the women how they can be their own ‘Hero’ through learning certain skills from ground ‘Zero’. We accomplish this goal by having key areas of personal development, relative to their specific reality, taught from the ground up. These areas are as follows;

Psychological: We always have a psychologist come and speak on coping mechanisms both directly after leaving abuse and for down the road when triggers could happen in public without warning.

Motivational Speaker: We have a leader from the community (usually a sought-after speaker, award winner etc.) come and speak on their version of over coming obstacles akin to those which these ladies have. Showing that reaching their goals is very possible with the right mindset as well as with the knowledge that you must always be kind to yourself and understand that setbacks aren’t the end of their journey, but a part of it.

Financial Success Planning: Through our experience in the shelters we have worked with women from every economic back-ground, yet the common denominator is they have barely escaped with their lives, and left only with the clothes on their back. Even the most well-planned exit strategies leave the women with extremely limited resources. We work with experts in this field to again, build from ground zero to financial stability through exposing common pitfalls, temptations, and by educating on resources not commonly known and therefore underutilized.

Self Defense: We have partnered with 5 Elements Martial Arts whose founder is 11-time World Champion for kick boxing and she is the one who teaches the self defense. All maneuvers are simple to master, taught from a few compromising physical positions and effective in being able to allow those crucial seconds to run. Each session is ended with each lady being taught and successfully breaking a board with her bare hands showing they are capable of much more then they think. It is powerful.

Entertainment: Once again, this component is executed by someone highly sought after who volunteers to preform for these ladies and give them a private ‘living room party’ experience which most would only be able to experience in a large venue with thousands of other people. Every emotion possible is experienced by everyone in the room and yet through the design of these events, everyone leaves feeling empowered with tools to assist them in their current state and in the future.

The Scholarship Program: In 2018 Gems for Gems will be partnering with colleges and other educational institutions across Canada in-order to provide nation wide trade scholarships, attainable in under 12 months, awarded to candidates from these shelters. Gems for Gems will partner only with educational institutions which ‘buy-in’ to our mandate of ongoing support to our scholars through the entire duration of their experience. More on this program to come in 2018!

SOP: Do you have a personal story behind this brand? How did it start?

GFG: The Christmas Jewelry Drive began Gems for Gems and was inspired by my own mother and my childhood observation that if children are in need, it is often in spite of their mother doing everything they can to bring magic and essentials into their lives. The mothers in abusive situations are a very misunderstood and unrepresented group. Although my mother was certainly not abused, my own experience of abuse, mixed with watching my Mum, is what finally made me action on my life long calling to create Gems for Gems.

SOP: What is your 3-5 year goal for this business to help your customers?

GFG: My dream is to create a supported process through which women who have successfully completed our Scholarship Program may re-enter society with confidence. The first step of that is our Gems for Gems Scholarship Program which will be launched in 2018 and will be providing educational opportunities to local applicants in its first year and expanding across Canada as soon as the need is met in Calgary.

The second step will be develop professional partnerships with those excited to support our scholarship recipients upon completion of their education through employment, networking and mentoring. Many exciting ventures to come from Gems for Gems!

SOP:  What is the most stand out story you have ever encountered during your journey?

GFG: Our testimonials often blow me away and there are two women who have aligned themselves with Gems for Gems who came to us because of their personal experiences. One of them sought out Gems for Gems and a partnership with us because she had spent several months in a local shelter and knew her experience would have been very different if Gems for Gems had been around for her. She left and went back to the abuser because although she was safe within the shelter, she remained afraid, broken and too weak emotionally to take on the world on her own. She fully believes that would not have been the result if she had been exposed to Gems for Gems.

Another woman sought us out to partner due to the fact that her mother was murdered by an abusive boyfriend and she believes Gems for Gems being present in her mother’s life would have resulted in her being alive today.

We frequently hear feedback within the shelter that our events are refreshing, heart-warming and humanizing due to the material covered but also because we love being there! Each woman working with us is personally called to assist this cause. This creates a warm loving environment which all are proud to be a part of.

Stories like these blow me away, humble me and give a true sense of the magnitude of this issue. There is much work to be done and we are chipping away by creating life changing opportunities for these women with the belief it will change not only their lives, but those of their children too.

Our photo embodies the sisterhood and an “All for one and one for all” -(Musketeers) feel which is the heart of this movement for me. I truly believe Gems for Gems has the current success because it is a movement propelled by the community. That is our greatest strength and because of this, I know we are going to achieve wonderful results for these amazing women.



Written by Tessa Lerbekmo-Joyes

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