02.11.1988 – 01.28.2022

We all have a Barbara moment. If you knew her well or if you had only met her once, you can likely point to a specific moment in time when she made a lasting impression on you, even if you aren’t fully able to articulate what exactly it was. The way she engaged with people was an outpouring of love and hope. She had a unique way of making the people around her feel seen, heard, known, and loved. When news of her sudden passing broke, we felt it in the deepest parts of ourselves: a light had gone out. And yet, there is comfort in knowing she lived fully and completely. She held nothing back.

Barbara joined our team in 2015 when we brought our mission of creating jobs to give women opportunity to our own backyard in Nashville, TN, and started selling handmade jewelry. Much like the stories of the women we worked with in Ethiopia, the women on our new jewelry team had often overcome challenges like homelessness and addiction and were living proof that there is life and hope through a job with dignity. Barbara was an incredible example of this. She had recently given birth to her second daughter and was living a full life as a wife, mother, and jewelry maker. She was also currently pursuing her counseling degree with a focus in addiction and recovery to provide redemptive hope and healing to those struggling with some of the same things she had dealt with in her past.

In her own words, “just because that’s who I was doesn’t mean that’s who I am or who I will continue to be.”

Her life was a beautiful representation of how suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope spread wherever Barbara went. With her contagious smile, vivacious hair, and in her favorite, casual attire – jeans and a t-shirt, she showed up exactly as she was. She was unafraid to show up and open up, freely sharing her struggles, her joy, her hope, and her knowledge. Barbara paved the way for growth, as our jewelry team grew from 2 to 20. As she learned new skills herself, she also became a teacher to the team and in a lot of ways acted as “the face” of our jewelry department - working with celebrity partners and openly sharing her story as a brand representative.

"I have had an opportunity to meet some incredible women working at ABLE. They're just not like your normal work relationships; it's my family."

Barbara is credited for having created the ABLE culture that she loved so much. The legacy she’s left is one that will never be forgotten.

We already have plans to honor Barbara’s legacy in multiple ways. Our new jewelry studio, opening in Spring 2022, will be dedicated to her. Her birthday, February 11th, will forever be celebrated as “Barbara Day,” where we all come dressed in our comfiest clothes, remembering we are all loved exactly as we are. The Barbara Necklace will be re-launched as a permanent jewelry piece in our line. And finally, we will be establishing a scholarship in her honor for those desiring to study to become a therapist for mental health, addiction, and recovery.

As Barbara would say each day to the ABLE Team when she clocked out, “in the morning!” – we say the same to you, until we meet again.

In the morning, Barbara.

If you want to hear more about the Barbara we all knew and loved, and understand the mission of why we do what we do at ABLE, we encourage you to listen to her episode on our She is ABLE podcast.
February 03, 2022 — sarah squires
Tags: Community