Monday, April 16, 2012

The Shalom of Tie-Dye

Story by Rebekah Connell ’15

Ashlie Busone '14 knows well what Mother Theresa meant when she said that "Peace begins with a smile." For a smile—simple as that—is what inspired the sophomore to start her own non-profit organization, Hippies for Hope.

Ashlie started tie-dying in the summer of 2007, when she was just 14. Having babysat for two girls suffering from a life-threatening lung disease, Ashlie brought a batch of tie-dye shirts when she visited them in the hospital. The smiles on the sick girls' faces amazed Ashlie, and those first smiles, along with thousands of others, have stuck with her ever since. "My inspiration was, and continues to be, the smiles that are affected by such a simple act of kindness," Ashlie says.

Since that first experience at her hometown hospital, Ashlie's "simple act of kindness" has evolved into an organization that now donates over 1000 shirts every year to children's hospitals, respite centers, group homes, and numerous other non-profits. Hippies for Hope has a wide-open mission, intended to bring joy and encouragement to "any individuals living with disabilities, illnesses, or any sort of hardship," says Ashlie.

Tie-dye shirts are made and sold for $10 to anyone who wants one, and for each shirt sold, another is donated. Hippies for Hope also maintains a long-term partnership with the non-profit Nurturing Minds, which funds a girls' school in Tanzania. By donating proceeds to Nurturing Minds, Hippies for Hope helps fund ESL and entrepreneurial programs so that students can support themselves and solve problems in their communities. Ashlie will spend three months at the school this summer as an extension of her work in Hippies for Hope.

Since starting college, Ashlie has dreamed of seeing her fellow students and mentors here at Gordon get involved with Hippies for Hope, and this spring, her vision has been activated. As part of the revival of the PIT, Gordon College’s official athletics fan club, Hippies for Hope has partnered with the Athletics Department to organize tie-dying sessions at sports events throughout the season. The March 20 baseball game, the first that Hippies for Hope attended, was "an incredible success," Ashlie raves. Gordon students purchased PIT t-shirts and tie-dyed them along with dozens of other shirts to be given to kids at Tufts Floating Hospital for Children. "We hope to get donations and dye shirts for at least four more drop-offs before the year is over," Ashlie says.

For the five years she has been running Hippies for Hope, Ashlie has had to work through many challenges, but they have never quelled her passion for the people she serves. "Watching people's faces as they make beautiful art together is exactly what 'the kingdom is like' for me," Ashlie says. The people are what keep her going, "No matter how different, how broken, how far apart."

Anyone interested in getting involved with this vibrant, globally-focused non-profit, headed by one of our very own Gordon students, can find more information (and order shirts!) via any of the contacts below. 

Justice begins in places like this. As Ashlie quips, "Some people call it shalom; I call it tie-dye."


Photo: Ashlie Busone ’14

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