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Bead Company wins Small Business Association Award

Hands of the Hills Recognized for its contribution to Welfare To Work Initiative

Duangporn and Steven Dunning, owners of Hands of the Hills of Mercer Island, WA, were honored for their contribution to the Welfare To Work Program of the U.S. Small Business Association. On 1 June they were presented the Employer of the Year Award for Region X at the Mayor's Small Business Banquet held at Seattle's Westin Hotel.

The Welfare To Work program encourages the private sector to find work for people who would otherwise be on the welfare rolls. The Hands of the Hills proprietors have managed to create employment for nearly dozen people who would otherwise be on public assistance. They employ refugees from East Asia to assemble bead kits that are then sold to major retailers, including Sam's Club, Toys 'R' Us and Imaginarium.

Without work at Hands of the Hills Bead Kit Division, many of these refugees would have no employment and few prospects. By working for the Dunnings they gain experience in language training, employee expectations and other critical skills. Currently Hands of the Hills is employing twenty-one refugees with limited English language skills, twenty of whom were formerly on welfare.

Duangporn was quoted by the Business Wire as explaining, "I've reached success in my business because of so many who have helped me. I would not have gotten very far if I was doing this for my own benefit."

One employee of whom they are particularly proud is a refugee from Cambodia, Phon Thi Thach, now their Production Manager. In addition to her work at Hands of the Hills, she saves her own money to help Cambodian children in Vietnam become literate. So far she has provided for the education of 78 students.

For further information, visit the web site of Hands of the Hills
or the
Small Business Association.

Source: Business Wire 2 June 1999


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