Same Sky, founded in 2008 by Francine LeFrak, works with female survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide in a "trade-not-aid" initiative that allows them a larger platform to market and sell their artisanal work. The Rwandan women crochet bracelets of hand-blown glass beads that can then be purchased in a worldwide movement of female empowerment. Each bracelet comes with a card identifying and providing background information on its maker.
"It's a message of hope -- it's a message of empowerment," LeFrak said. "We created this model that gives them dignity and gives them a chance to show us their talents."
The event was sparked when Mindy Levine, the wife of Yankees president Randy Levine, learned of Same Sky's mission. The organizations were then able to bring together Wednesday's event celebrating "the women of Yankee Stadium," with the bracelets taking center stage.
"[Mindy Levine] had a concept that would be the working women of Yankee Stadium coming together to support the working women of Rwanda," said Jean Afterman, vice president and assistant general manager of the Yankees. "We don't pretend baseball is important or popular in Rwanda; we know it isn't. But this is about the power of the Yankees brand to reach across the ocean to people who may not even know anything about the Yankees. We're all living under the same sky."
The event was attended by working women from the Yankees organization, the YES Network and Securitas, among others.
"It's, like, the coolest thing you could ever imagine," LeFrak said of holding the event at Yankee Stadium. "It's a beautiful thing to see these men and women sharing the message, caring about women worldwide and making a difference."
-- Tim Britton