Ingrid Webster – Professional Pearl Stringer by Day, Kindness Rebel by Night
Dreaming of Love and Peace
“It all started with the inception of the Neverending Necklace on July 21st 1998, when the necklace itself was simply named “Love & Peace Project” back then.
This project was born when I read about a Veteran’s charity in the Palm Beach Post, a local newspaper.
It was by means of that passionate reporting, when I learned about Chris Noel’s ‘Vetsville Cease Fire House’, and how it helped homeless and/or disabled Veterans get shelter, emotional support and resources to reclaim their lives.
Having served dozens of Jewelers in Palm Beach County designing and repairing pearl jewelry, at that time I had been working with beads already for about a decade. So it was a natural jump for me to create a visually intriguing awareness project by using beads.
In its infancy, the string of love and peace was a vehicle to raise money for Veterans. But then it quickly became a hobby, something to do on weekends, since it really did not generate enough money for charity. Still, the Neverending Necklace slowly grew and took shape, and it changed to an awareness project for love, peace, unity, acceptance and kindness. At the same time it became clear that it would be a lasting commitment.
Over the years, this had become a long and ardent journey, including of course, many ups and downs.
Hitting some potholes on the way
Because of physical limitations (having lost a good portion of my eyesight due to a series of mini strokes), I could no longer drive and show the necklace at events. The still fledgling internet seemed to hold a solution: expose the sections of the necklace to the world, and offer sponsorships to businesses in order to generate money for the charities.
But by then, the economy had turned sour. The Webster household lost its income, businesses couldn’t afford sponsoring, or even much advertising, and the priorities of life shifted just to make it through the infamous recession of 2009. (Which, by the way, really started in 2006. Ask anyone in the construction industry.)
Somehow, the Neverending Necklace survived.
And between all the ‘keep your chin up’ and ‘it could be worse’ that almost everybody had experienced, people still dedicated beads. In addition, they so generously donated beads for use on the necklace.
Gestures of love they were. And without anybody realizing, these actions kept my faith and hope for this project alive.
Onward and upward!
Enter a renewed commitment to the string that carries the love of so many.
The ‘idle time’ – courtesy of a lousy economy, afforded me to create more panels. I popped out sections like crazy, since at least it kept me occupied. This process put me in a state of ‘Zen’, where I could string the countless beads, ponder about what really matters in life, and make plans for the future of the necklace.
This included the idea of finding an exhibit space, where the beads can be visited throughout the year. It will become a reality with the opening of a Love, Peace and Beads Museum in the future. So naturally, a lot of info about pearls and beads will be found there too, because I would like to share my vast knowledge and pass it on to the next generation.
My focus has moved away from working with bead design and repairs alone. Spreading kindness, love and hope has become my life’s true purpose. All Museum Building Activities as well as the Be More! Initiatives were developed out of this desire.
To create an incentive to pay attention how we treat each other, the Kindness Rebel Program™ was put into place. Anybody can collect points and get fantastic freebies, while making the world a tiny bit nicer to live in.
With that in mind, I’m hoping to entice people to participate often and all year long, filling the museum with personalized items and unique memories.
And this one’s huge: getting cool stuff for free, should be motivating enough people to help our local charities. That way, they can be an awesome support system for our communities.
More than anything, I wanted to create a fresh concept where people would actually look forward to come to my site, and become a part of the Love & Peace Project themselves.
Hopefully, we get to know each other better over time, and hopefully the footprints we leave will pave the way to a kinder society.
Let’s start here and now!
Born and raised in Würzburg, Germany, I found (and now live with) my husband in South Florida. But that’s a story for another time…”
~ Ingrid Webster
Go to these pages for more info:
Meet the Founder
About the title image:
A photo from the early days, when the Love & Peace Project consisted only of the Neverending Necklace. Here it is at a street fair in Lake Worth, Florida. Image © by Ingrid Webster
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