Two years ago I was given two glassybaby glasses by my older daughter’s roommate from Seattle, as a thank you gift for hosting her during Thanksgiving. The glasses were elegant and decorative and found a special spot on my fireplace mantel.

Recently, when I traveled up to Seattle for visit friends and explore the creative city, I found a glassybaby shop at the Sea-Tac airport and bought a few more for gifts. The sales clerk asked if I knew the story about Lee Rhodes, the owner of glassybaby? When I said I didn’t, she shared with me that Rhodes is a three time lung cancer survivor. Since my own mother died of lung cancer at the age of 54, I felt a connection to this woman and purchased a Happy Birthday glass for my sister-in-law, a breast cancer survivor. Every year when we honor her birthday, it is a wonderful celebration of life.

When I returned home, I needed to learn more Lee Rhodes and glassy baby. I discovered she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1995. During her various treatments, she would meet other cancer patients fighting for their life. Many of these patients not only worried about their survival, but many couldn’t afford childcare, groceries for their family, and transportation to chemotherapy.

Lee’s husband, Emery Rhodes took a glass blowing class and would bring home colorful glass votives to his wife. He made the multi-layered pieces by learning a glass blowing technique, and used different shaded color rods to produce opaque, translucent and deep colored glass.

Lee would pop a candle inside these “baby glasses” and found the light and colors coming from the glass soothing and healing, especially during her difficult treatment periods. The tranquility of the glasses reminded Lee to stop, take a deep breath, and appreciate every day.

Soon she started giving these glasses away to friends as gifts and the idea of glassybaby was born. She hired glass blowers to make votives that she could sell and donate money to cancer charities to provide others with – Light, hope and love.

Today Lee’s company glassybaby has over 70 glass blowers who make more than four hundred different colors with affirmations on the bottom. The names include: begin again, breathe, joy, sorry, thank you, wet dog, and clean + sober. There are only a few retail stores in Seattle and one in San Francisco, however everyone can buy a glassybaby over the internet.

Each glass is approximately one pound, 3.75″ high and 2.5″ diameter. Each has a clear glass bottom that varies in size. Each glass is unique, because they are handmade. The tagline for her products is “one of a kindness.” To give back to those in need, glassybaby donates 10% of every purchase to the Glassybaby White Light Fund. It gives financial aid to charities helping cancer patients with costs during chemotherapy. She also makes sure money is donated to other charities “dedicated to healing” to provide emotional assistance and promote hope to those who feel hopeless. To date, the fund has donated over $3 million dollars to various charities. Some of the charities that receive donations include Some of the charities where glassybaby donates money are the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, University of Washington Medical Center, Gilda’s Club New York City, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, The Humane Society of the United States, and Conservation International.

In 2008, Lee Rhodes was the Nellie Cashman Woman Business Owner of the Year. Three years later Lee was honored with the “It’s Always Something Award” by Gilda’s Club New York City for all of her work to help cancer patients.

Lee’s company is going stronger than ever. Another Seattle resident, Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos purchased a 22 percent stake in glassybaby. He sees the company reaching the $100 million dollar mark, which means a lot more money to cancer support groups helping patients.

Glassybaby also manufactures a slightly larger and thinner glass, known as a “drinker” in the “accessories” section of their website. 10% percent of each glass sold is donated to the Seattle Division of V.A. Puget Sound to support veterans battling cancer.

To see the different glassybaby products and order one, go to http://glassybaby.com

 

Submitter Name: Jill Weinlein
Submitter URL: https://dineandtravel.wordpress.com