By Anna Demmler
Seven years ago, twin sisters Emma and Claire Nesbitt made and sold plastic-beaded bracelets with friends while on a trip in Colorado. Later they donated their $110 profit to MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Emma and Claire, now 16-years old, discussed with their parents about giving back and doing “something that would make a lasting impact on the community,” says Claire, a student at St. Agnes Academy and member of National Charity League (NCL) – whose mission is “to foster mother-daughter relationships in a philanthropic organization committed to community service, leadership development and cultural experiences,” according to their official website.
In July 2016, the girls started Hope Thrives, a non-profit organization that sells handmade jewelry to “further support Houston’s at-risk and special need students and communities,” according to their website. Hope Thrives donates 100% of its profit to The Nehemiah Center of Houston, Ronald McDonald House of Houston, The Lighthouse of Houston, and Kids’ Meals.
Emma and Claire are jewelry fans and study the latest trends. “I go to an all-girls school,” Claire laughs. “I know the hot trends people are following, and I feel like [jewelry] could make the biggest difference because it would generate the most money.” The girls meet with a specialist to show them how to make their art. Hope Thrives consists of 30 members, including high school friends, artistic consultants, and their family, to make and market their non-profit business.
Mary Nesbitt, mother of Emma and Claire, adds “It’s not like they’ve always had an easy road. They were born 3 months early. So they’ve had their own challenges... They have worked very hard. They understand what work ethic is and they understand that they’ve been blessed in many ways.”
Each charity supported by Hope Thrives has a personal story to Emma and Claire. The Nehemiah Center – an organization that assists children of low income families – was introduced to Claire as a member of NCL. “It was amazing to see the amount of people that it helps. I just really like to give back.”
The Ronald McDonald House took care of the Nesbitt family when they visited a hospital in Ohio to hear a second opinion on Emma’s visionary problems. The Nesbitt family was able to stay for free across from the hospital and was served “food from the best restaurants,” says Mary. Adamant about the mission of Ronald McDonald House, Emma says the charity allows families to “stay connected during hard times and get things they need in order to thrive.”
Emma, a National Honor Society member and current student at Xavier Educational Academy, learned to swim as a camper at The Lighthouse of Houston – “a private nonprofit education and service center dedicated to assisting blind and visually impaired people to live independently,” according to Hope Thrive’s official website. As she got older, Emma helped to teach other campers with visual impairment how to use technology, such as auditory apps on their iPod, audio books, or how to use Siri to assist with a school report.
When Emma and Claire were in elementary school, they helped pack dinner meals for Kids’ Meals, an organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger. Due to the call to give back, and in particular Emma’s love for cooking and culinary school, the twins agreed they would also like to help Kids’ Meals.
Claire says Hope Thrives wanted to “see a continuation in growth in Houston. By having a non-profit generate funds, we wanted to envision Houston pride.” Emma adds “It’s a great time for people to ask ‘How can I better the lives of people in my own city?’ … [The four charities] are helping to lift limitations and to help people become better, to thrive as individuals.”
Hope Thrives’ jewelry is environmentally friendly. The pearls are made organically. The silks are made in the USA and contain plant-based dyes.
Kathleen Buchanan, aunt to Emma and Claire, says “Hope is something for character that can really serve as the kind of ornament and sparkle that jewelry can too… [Emma and Claire] want to tell you what they can do and not what they can’t do, and they want to help other people learn these lessons too.” There will be three local events where you can buy Hope Thrives jewelry. On Oct. 26 - 30, Hope Thrives is partnering with Elaine Turner Rice Village for a Jewelry Trunk Show.
Nov. 21 -22 (Sun. and Mon. before Thanksgiving) River Oaks Country Club is having their Holiday Shopping Boutique, and Hope Thrives was invited to participate. Hope Thrives will also be at Bellaire’s Holiday in the Park on Dec. 1.
With a fond and proud smile to her girls, Mary says, “It was my girls who came up with the idea of doing more… I have a mentor who has always said to me, ‘To those to whom much has been given, much is expected. And that’s a value that we try to distill in our daughters, and have done it for years through community service… I just watch [Emma and Claire] and it makes me so happy that they’re growing into very community- oriented, self-aware, compassionate, empathetic children.”
To buy jewelry from Hope Thrives online, visit www.hopethrives.org. Any contributions made online go to each of the four charities, but you may contact the Nesbitt family under the Contact page if you would like your contribution to go to a certain charity.