VISTA, Calif. —
The war in Ukraine may feel like it's a world away, but not to three people in Vista. In this Zevely Zone, I learned how a small bead shop is making a big difference. A few weeks ago, we aired a story about the City of Vista's new podcast which took us to the door of Beads, Crystals and More. That's where we were introduced to Phil Fischman and a dream. "When we started, I just wanted to do good," said Phil. "We are creating bracelets for Ukraine, using all of the blue and yellow colors."
Using the colors of Ukraine, with beads from all over the world: bracelets instead of bombs. "This is Ghana glass, glass from Africa," said Phil. "These are beads from the Czech Republic. It hit me powerfully, a few days before the war started, my mom was born in Kyiv, my grandma was, I believe, also born in Kyiv."
Phil, along with his wife Valeri, and the shop's manager Dorisanne are making bracelets day and night. "We are doing it with every blue and yellow bead we have in the store," said Valeri. Fundraisers usually pass along 10 or 20% of the proceeds, but not the Fischmans. They are donating their labor. "Everything," said Phil. What about the cost of the beads? "Everything," smiled Phil which means 100% of every donation helps Ukraine.
"We have nothing to gain from this but goodness," said Phil. Valeri added, "What's going on right now needs as much help and support as anyone can provide."
"We sent the first check for a thousand dollars to World Central Kitchen. We sent the second check about a week later to Doctors without Borders," said Phil. People all over the US are buying the bracelets. "These are friends in Florida who have all been wearing bracelets and praying for peace in Ukraine," said Phil while showing me pictures of people wearing the jewelry. The shop's manager Dorisanne Soyka doesn't mind the sore fingers from hours of crafting. "I can't tell you how delighted the people are to be able to feel like they can do something," said Dorisanne.
Some of the beads come from Russia itself. "It's not the Russian people who are creating war," said Phil. Individually, beads may be pretty, but bind them together, they become as powerful as people. Phil showed me a picture of a lifetime spent promoting peace. "I was protesting war 50 years ago when we graduated high school it was the Vietnam War," said Phil. I asked him if he was surprised by how his dream took off? "No," said Phil who then paused and said, "Yes!" with a huge laugh.
Their bracelet making and fundraiser have led to $13,000 in donations so far. Maybe they should rename their shop and call it Beads, Crystals and SO MUCH More. "Sometimes it makes me feel like crying, but most of the time it just makes me feel good inside," said Phil. "To be able to do something for people in need is very heartwarming."
Phil is a nationally certified Gemologist, trained at the world-renowned GIA. Valeri Okun worked for decades in the traditional mental health field.