Happy to Labor for Others

by Rebekah Brown

Typical Julie making things happen.

Julie is Happy to Labor for Others

I just saw the amazing Julie Colombino who made an appearance in Orlando today. As the United States celebrates Labor Day weekend, I thought you should meet someone who works harder than anyone I’ve met…to help others.
Julie is happy to labor for others wherever she is needed, without a vacation, regular hours, pay or medical care. I see her as an American hero.
In August 2010, Julie left Florida for Haiti to help rebuild after the devastating earthquake. When I say left, I mean that she got on a plane with a bag in her hand and love in her heart. She didn’t have a plan, but she knew that she could not sit by and let people die, starve and suffer alone. She wanted to help do something…anything.
Once in Haiti Julie hit the ground running towards the earthquake’s path of destruction. But, Julie had a vision and began to gather resources from the rubble to make shoes out of discarded tires for people who had lost everything.
In six years, Julie has breathed life into another country, first following her heart, then creating and following plan after plan, to build new lives for others.

Deux Mains Designs

Julie has sheltered, clothed, fed and employed people who were surrounded by danger and likely death. Julie began by learning from local artisans how to make sandals. When they’d handmade hundreds of pairs, she shipped them home to sell for donations in the U.S.
Concurrent with marketing her product Julie was determined to turn the impoverished into entrepreneurs. Julie pulled together a group to help her launch a 501(c)3 named REBUILD Globally.
Julie learned everything by doing it herself and culling information and resources from people she met who worked for NGOs, the United Nations, politicians, leaders, friends in Florida and around the world who believed in her and what she envisioned.
Julie engineered an amazing charity that has been “fighting poverty in Haiti by creating local business and administering education and job training programs that provide a pipeline to employment.”

Julia, Julie & newborn Caroline.

As of September 2016, Julie has 25 full-time craftsmen and women, three of whom are managers and who also have ownership in the local business she helped create. Julie’s efforts have provided shelter for 21 additional adults and 32 children.

Kenneth Cole is a Partner

Oh, and about that brand? Julie turned tire sandals into designer shoes by partnering with Kenneth Cole. Now, there is a line of shoes and other wearables called Deux Mains Designs “an ethical fashion and footwear brand creating jobs in Haiti. Every purchase turns poverty into prosperity.”
Deux Mains Designs employs six part-time tutors and teachers who work with 30 vulnerable students in the Elèv Program.

Next Up: Refugee Camps

Julie’s not sitting still because she’s got another idea: “Refugees, I’m helping refugees,” Julie said. “There are so many around the world living in camps for years and years. I think that I can duplicate what I did in Haiti in Jordan and other countries surrounding Syria.”
As we relax and enjoy the peace and quiet that our nation provides us on Labor Day, consider supporting Julie Columbino through a donation to REBUILD Globally or purchasing products from Deux Main Designs.
You’ll be able to say you helped an American hero helping those in Haiti, and soon Jordan and Syria, who will have more now that Julie is on the way. Happy Labor Day!


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