It’s not March Madness, but it is Bracelet Bonanza!


March Madness does exist at Mikelle’s home, but it is more like madness for making money at her Bracelet Bonanza Party.

While many things bring a smile to Mikelle’s face, nothing makes her more confident than gathering the green stuff in her small hand. At the first ever Social Security Beneficiaries Summit, via conference call, she once told former White House aide, Ollie Cantos, “I like to work, and I like to make money.” And, for years, she did as a national presenter speaking on transition from school to work and assistive technology. She sold her bracelets at inclusion conferences all across the country.

Those days are gone.  Times changed, budgets dried up; webinars became the new way to train.

Mikelle and I re-grouped and focused on Families at the Forefront of Technology and our website, Shining Beautiful, and local bracelet selling opportunities. Nice efforts, still Mikelle longed to present, to show off her skills and more importantly, to sell. We speculated; should we expand or contract?

Maybe the path to the future comes from the past.

20160318_184106Gretchen Storm, Mikelle’s speech and language therapist had an idea, which harkened back to the days of Avon, Jafra, and Tupperware parties. “Why doesn’t Mikelle have a bracelet party at her home?” she asked.

Great idea, but who would come?

Gretchen said. “I would love for Mikelle to demonstrate how she uses her iPad in real life situations. I know a group of speech pathologists who are finishing up their internships here in Denver. They all live in Mikelle’s neighborhood.”

Gretchen’s strategy was brilliant, get therapists out of the classroom and let them observe someone using technology to live and work in their community.

Mikelle sent invitations, planned her menu, and we all helped Mikelle make sure she had a robust inventory of bracelets.

As Mikelle thought about it, she decided her goal was to make enough money to purchase a new TV for her room.

20160318_182352 (1)A mid-March Friday night proved to the perfect time and her home was the perfect place. One by one, Mikelle’s living room filled up with enthusiastic women bearing gifts of wine, cheese, and tortilla chips.

Mikelle’s living room was decked out with candlelight and sparkling jewelry as was her dining room. “We Accept Credit Cards” signs were displayed in prominent places reminding people cash wasn’t their only option.

Jack, Mikelle’s thirteen-year-old nephew, assisted her when needed, as did Shannon, one of her team members. In the comfort of her home, Mikelle relied on me, less and less.

The party expanded beyond the speech and language interns to include neighbors on Mikelle’s floor, a friend down the street and Mikelle’s case manager, Jessica.20160318_182409 (1)

Good times equal great sales. Perhaps we have stumbled upon a new business strategy.  I enjoyed watching the interaction between Mikelle and these soon-to-be college graduates. The neighbor down the hall’s mother attended bringing with her ginger beer and a credit card. After learning more about Mikelle and our Families at the Forefront of Technology Conference, she thought of individuals with disabilities she knew who might benefit from attending the conference.

Mikelle was “shining beautifully” as she worked her selling magic on her iPad.  The brilliance of community in action is a marvel to see. The evening reminded me a little bit of the Frank Capra movie; It’s a Wonderful Life when every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings, this evening, every time Mikelle squealed with delight—we all knew a sale was made.

The evening was a celebration of community and commerce. Everyone left a winner.