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Women's Bean Project celebrates twenty years

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For twenty years, Women's Bean Project has been helping women get back on their feet -- and the good work it's done over that time amounts to much more than a hill of beans.

The Project got its start back in 1989, when Jossy Eyre was volunteering at a Denver homeless shelter for women and children; she saw how these women were caught in a cycle of poverty. So she invested $500 in supplies for Toni's Ten Bean Soup soup mix, and put two women to work; the mixes were sold locally to family and friends. Today the Project is located in a renovated fire station at 3201 Curtis Street and sells its products -- everything from salsa mixes to coffee beans to jelly beans, as well as a variety of gift boxes -- to over 350 stores in forty states. (Locally, that includes all King Soopers and City Market stores, as well as about a hundred Safeways.)

To mark its anniversary, the Project is looking for stories from people in the community who've been impacted by its work. "One of my favorite stories is about a woman who came to our sales booth at a craft fair," says Tamra Ryan, the non-profit's CEO. "All of our products carry the signature of the woman who made them, and this customer was thrilled to discover a number of products that were marked 'Lovingly Handmade by Aurelia.' Her mother's name was Aurelia and she ended up purchasing every single product on the table that had Aurelia's name. It was such a nice way for us to connect with the customer on a very personal level."

Women's Bean Project will be celebrating its twentieth anniversary at a party tomorrow, August 6, at Infinity Park in Glendale; tickets are $150 and can be purchased by calling 303-292-1919 ext 114. And you can buy Project products -- and submit your stories -- at www.womensbeanproject.com.

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