It started with a vision
As a child during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Josepha “Jossy” Eyre (Masters of Social Work 1986) faced starvation, terror and the unspeakable trauma of losing siblings during the bombardment – all veiled in secrecy by adults too afraid to speak openly. The experiences left Eyre with a profound sense of hopelessness, something she recognized among the homeless women she encountered years later as a volunteer at Denver’s The Gathering Place. How, Eyre wondered, could she help these women achieve independence and empowerment? The answer came in 1989 in the unexpected form of beans when Jossy founded Women’s Bean Project.
The vision turned reality
Eyre saw that while the shelter kept women safe, it could not help them make lasting changes in their lives. Eyre bought $500 worth of beans and put two homeless women to work making bean soup – the first step in building the social enterprise we are today. Our training opportunities have expanded dramatically over 25 years, and our annual operating budget has grown from $6,100 to over $1.7 million.
Former Mayor Wellington Webb making Toni’s 10 Bean Soup back in the early 90’s.
Spreading the Mission
King Soopers became the first grocery store to carry Women’s Bean Project products in 1993. Women’s Bean Project is part of The Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Colorado Proud marketing program. To date, Women’s Bean Project is sold in close to 1,000 retail and grocery locations nationwide, including King Soopers and Safeway (Colorado locations), Ten Thousand Villages, Womensbeanproject.com and online retailers such as Amazon.com, Overstock.com, Walmart.com and Samsclub.com.
Firehouse #10 Headquarters
In 1995, we purchased former Fire Station #10 (built in 1928) from the City and County of Denver and moved to our new home the following year at 3201 Curtis Street.
Our decommissioned firehouse received a full makeover on behalf of HGTV’s Change the World, Start at Home Campaign in April 2008. Our building houses our production and shipping and fulfillment downstairs and our retail store, offices and conference room upstairs.