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West Orange Times & Observer Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 7 months ago

School project becomes nonprofit Beads 4 Beats

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Lucinda Howard wanted to make beaded bracelets to help sick children 13 years ago. Today, she operates the organization she and her parents formed.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

When Lucinda Howard was 13, her teacher challenged the students to create a project that can help someone other than themselves. She told her parents she wanted to start a charity and came up with the idea of making and selling beaded bracelets, with the proceeds going to ill children in Central Florida.

Thirteen years later, Howard still is involved with her original project although it has expanded and now is a nonprofit organization called Beads 4 Beats. She operates it as CEO with an 11-member board of directors.

Howard’s website describes the purpose: “Beads (bracelets) represent a circle of love that will be given to sick children to help them remember that they are thought of and loved. The beats stand for keeping the heartbeats going for as long as possible.”

 

ASSIGNMENT: HELPING OTHERS

Howard’s school assignment grew to something more once she had a plan in place. Students — and later her school’s PTA and various youth groups — helped make the bracelets to sell, and others created and sold the jewelry and gave Howard the money earned.

Her parents, Ken and Linda Howard, of Gotha, helped make Beads 4 Beats Inc. official in 2011. The Howards’ first recipient was an 8-year-old girl with cancer. They created a special bracelet for the young patient and assisted the family financially.

“It has been an incredible journey supporting these families and watching the community come together to encourage and give back to those in need,” Lucinda Howard, now living in Nashville, wrote on the website. “We’ve supported over 20 children and families in our community,” she wrote. “Your financial support has allowed us to provide therapy, medication, procedures and so much more for our kids. Our focus is on supporting, loving and encouraging our families, both financially and emotionally.”

When she turned 17, Lucinda asked her friends and supporters to donate $17 to B4B in lieu of getting her a gift. In 2020 for Christmas, she, along with Advent Health staff, rolled out an Amazon smiles campaign and donated requested gifts to children in the cancer pavilion.

Beads 4 Beats partners with Advent Health and Orlando Health, which select patients in financial need, and the nonprofit assists with medical bills. UCP Pine Hills is a benefit partner as well. The organization also is involved in the West Orange Chamber of Commerce.

Through the years, the organization has expanded its board and held fundraisers such as 5K runs the last six years at Dr. P. Phillips Community Park. A class at UCP has helped with bracelet making and fundraising too.

The Howards hope to raise money at Beads 4 Beats’ first celebratory breakfast that recognizes the organization’s 10th anniversary.

“Your financial support has allowed us to provide therapy, medication, procedures and so much more for our kids,” Howard said. “Our focus is on supporting, loving and encouraging our families, both financially and emotionally.”

In her spare time, Howard started a podcast called ByTwenty, “where everyone has a seat” to bring variant, relevant, difficult topics to young adults. Her topics have dealt with living single, being a mom, handling mental illness, dealing with the death of a loved one, marriage, forgiveness and more.

“We want to fill our community with encouragement and support as they fight for their little one’s health, just as we would as if it were our very own child,” Howard said.

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Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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