Helping herself, others through jewelry making

Por Catholic New World
domingo, enero 3, 2010

When Elizabeth “Betsy” Riley suffered a cerebral aneurism more than 10 years ago, doctors thought she would never speak again or interact with people.

Today she not only speaks but hand-makes unique jewelry that she donates to an area nonprofit for a fundraiser.

Betsy, 44, was a MAC cosmetics artist at Henri Bendel in downtown Chicago until her aneurism in 1998. Given her artistic background it is only fitting that music and art has aided in her recovery. While in rehabilitation, Betsy responded to music therapy and started talking again. Today she can speak but it is difficult for her to carry conversation. She often uses a wheelchair to get around.

Three years ago, Betsy, who attends Holy Name Cathedral with her mother, began making jewelry to help with her recovery. She hand makes beaded earrings, bracelets, necklaces and key chains. Each piece of jewelry is unique and one of a kind.

Jewelry making evolved from other art Betsy did.

“This was just meant to happen,” said Mary Riley, Betsy’s mother. “It’s certainly been a good outlet.”

Betsy donates the jewelry to the St. Joseph Hospital Clothes Closet. The Clothes Closet then sells them as a fundraiser for their ministry.

Mary Riley said their faith has helped them through her daughter’s trauma and living with her disability today.

“If you didn’t have faith at a time like this it would be really hard,” said Mary, who said St. Jude and St. Joseph are her go-to intercessors.

She said that while she can ask God why this happened to her daughter, her family has also met some great people along the way.

“It’s just been an amazing journey,” Mary said.