YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- Yorktown’s Joan Lloyd planted her teaching roots in the Lakeland school district more than 40 years ago. While far removed from her classroom days, she feels her volunteer project to support battered women is an extension of her previous career as an educator.
Lloyd hosts several workshops each month in which people make earrings that are donated to women’s shelters across the United States. For every pair that a person makes for themselves at Lloyd’s events, they also make a pair to send to a shelter. Lloyd’s workshops, called “Bling’s The Thing,” sends nearly 1,000 earrings to women’s shelters each month.
“I feel like I’m a teacher again,’’ said Lloyd, who taught middle school math and science in the early stages of her career before moving into corporate positions where she also used her instructional and communication skills. “I have what I call my ‘Groupies,’ people who follow me from workshop to workshop. It’s great, because everyone makes me feel so good.”
Lloyd conducts her workshops throughout Westchester and Putnam Counties. She hosts them at libraries, Girl Scout meetings, senior citizen centers and birthday parties.
Lloyd provides the beads and other items necessary to make the earrings. She started the workshops five years ago after learning of a similar program on Long Island.
“I thought it was a good idea,’’ Lloyd said. “I thought maybe the woman who was doing it was sending the earrings to the only shelter in the area. I Googled shelters, and my jaw fell open. There were close to 100 in New York and New Jersey alone. I saw the opportunity and started to make phone calls, and it grew from there.”
Earrings made at Lloyd’s workshops now get sent to shelters in New York and New Jersey, as well as California, Oregon, Texas and elsewhere. The success of her initiative surprised her.
“I didn’t know what would happen,’’ Lloyd said. “A woman at Hart Library (in Shrub Oak) heard what I was doing and said ‘Why don’t you do a workshop?’ I started getting a lot of phone calls and emails. I try hard to make all of them happen, especially at this time of year. Everyone wants to do it before Christmas.”
Lloyd’s earring workshops are just one element in an interesting life in employment and community involvement. She worked in an instructional capacity for IBM, published 35 books, served with ambulance units in Mohegan and Yorktown and volunteers as a board member of the Hart Library. “I redefine myself every couple of years,’’ said Hart, a Yorktown resident since 1966. “I get bored.”
Unfortunately for Lloyd, she does not get to see the joy on the faces of the women at the shelters when they receive the earrings. “I understand why,’’ Lloyd said. “It’s something I knew from the beginning. The shelters don’t want anyone to know where they are located because the women feel threatened. I do get lovely cards and notes. It feels wonderful and makes me smile.”
Sadly, domestic violence rages throughout the nation. Statistics show 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of physical violence by a partner within their lifetime. On a typical day, more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. "The statistics are horrifying.'' Lloyd said. "I can’t fix it, but maybe I can do a little bit. Maybe what I’m doing is a reason for them to try to make their life in the shelter work and not go back into an abusive relationship.”
For Lloyd, it’s her way of giving back. “I don’t know whether I’m paying it backward, forward or sideways,’’ she said. “It makes me feel good. I think of the lady on the other end, and putting a smile on her fact at what must be the lowest point of her life. That’s the reward that I get.”
For more information on upcoming events, click here to visit the Bling’s The Thing Facebook page or e-mail JoanELloyd@att.net.