“The most helpful jewelry group in America, Jewelers Helping Jewelers has moved from helping, to doing miracles!” says Aleah Arundale, founder of the Jewelers Helping Jewelers Facebook group. That’s right, the Facebook powerhouse known as JHJ not only helps the world sparkle, but helps the world see.
Let’s back up a bit and look at how this charitable group of jewelers went from helping each other with appraisals to paying for eye surgeries in Africa.
Six years ago, Aleah started a Facebook group called Jewelers Helping Jewelers. She grew up in a retail jewelry store and knew how hard it was to run one. “Anything to make the jeweler’s job easier,” Aleah would say. Jewelers Helping Jewelers, or JHJ, now has over 27,000 members! But that’s not the amazing part. JHJ has 80% active members. Few groups anywhere can claim that participation rate. 27,000 true vetted industry members dedicated to helping each other.
It is not only the grand events that make JHJ so special. It is the daily helpfulness. As Aleah says, “It’s the daily help JHJ members give to each other of hallmarks, appraisals, or sourcing that make the group such a hit.” It is the 35 jewelers who reached out to make a CAD design for a jeweler they didn’t even know when he asked what he should do with his deceased wife’s ring. It is the way they helped a sweet jeweler buy her own building. The way the jewelers helped a single mom with 4 kids start her own business, and how they helped a silversmith afford to adopt two beautiful little girls. JHJ helped a Holocaust survivor get her jewelry back, caught numerous bad guys, and adopted 3 gem mines. The list goes on and on. The industry’s premier group created for helping each other certainly lives up to its name.
Last month, JHJ elevated their mission to help others by also enabling miracles. And what could be more miraculous than restoring sight to the blind? “Blindness is a huge problem, but it’s one we can solve,” states Aleah. “People in developing countries are blind mainly due to cataracts. In America there are enough doctors for people to get cataract surgery early enough. But in developing countries there are few doctors, so millions needlessly go blind. In the developing world blindness is often a death sentence.”
Aleah traveled to Ethiopia to assist doctors from the Cure Blindness charity perform cataract surgeries in two rural hospitals. “Now,” Aleah says, “715 people can see thanks to the generosity of a group of jewelers. Together JHJ not only makes the industry better, but the world better too. People genuinely want to help. If you ask the right people in the right way the results are amazing.” According to the doctors Aleah worked with, Ethiopia has only 42 eye surgeons for a country of 110 million.
The story of Cure Blindness begins with a hero, Sanduk Ruit. As a young boy, Sanduk saw how dangerous it was for the blind to maneuver in the high mountains of his home in Nepal. Sanduk realized that even if there were enough doctors in Nepal to perform cataract surgery, the cost of lenses from Europe or the US were prohibitive for the poverty-stricken population. “How can we make them cheaper and accessible to all?” Sanduk thought. After years of research, Sanduk produced a lens for just $4 and opened a lens factory in Nepal to mass produce them. Sanduk’s work brought the cost of cataract surgery down from $200 dollars to just $25. Sanduk’s success has been almost biblical. Over 2 million people now have vision because of his invention and the Cure Blindness medical teams.
“Often we give to a charity and have no idea where the money goes. But Cure Blindness takes $25 and turns it into a million for the child or adult who can now see. One more person who can wake up and see the sun rise, who can see their children, who can go to school,” Aleah says. “It is never too late to give. You can be the reason someone sees tomorrow!”