Photo: Community leaders, elected officials, family and friends congratulate Sondra's Fine Jewelry owner Sondra Stephens on 15 years in business and assist with her Toys for Tots campaign.
Sondra's Fine Jewelry celebrated its 15th year anniversary and kickoff to its 2012 Toys for Tots campaign with a ribbon cutting hosted by the Chamber
of Schenectady County
on November 14, 2012.
The ribbon cutting was sponsored by McNamee, Lochner, Titus & Williams
journey to becoming business mogul and philanthropist with a dream and a dining room table full of jewelry.
Though the jewelry industry is still quite male-dominated, she
has been able to break the "glass ceiling" and show women everywhere that anything is possible.
always knew that she
wanted to own a fine jewelry store but had no idea she
would become so instrumental in the community.
tireless work for the community is done out the sheer goodness of her
has become a leader in the community, and women's and children's issues have always been at the top of her
list of concerns.
"never-say-no" attitude has helped bring much-needed awareness to a number of charities.
possesses the ability to get friends and business associates to understand that charity work starts on the ground level, and she
shows no signs of slowing down!
Sondra is deeply devoted to raising money for Bellevue Women's Center of Ellis Medicine for breast cancer awareness as well as working with The Foundation for Ellis Medicine.
has been recognized by Ellis Medicine
work on its Winter Gala, Cardiac Classic, various golf tournaments, hosting the Mobile Mammography Vehicle at her
store and Women's Night Out, for which she
made a $25,000 donation in 2012.
Also in 2012, Sondra
received a Good News Award from the Chamber
of Schenectady County, recognizing her
business success and strong community support.
of Northeastern New York awarded her
the Susan G. Rosenthal Award at its 27th Annual Women of Achievement and REACH Awards for her
unrelenting passion for helping others and maintaining a small business that gives back to the community.
is among the major supporters in the area for the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program.
This will be her
sixth year raising money and collecting toys for needy children in the area.
motto, "Go big or go home," has helped her
to collect more than 50,000 toys over the last five years with the help of many friends, clients and business associates.
With events on tap for 2012 such as "Stuff the Niskayuna District 1 Fire Truck" and Union College Hockey's "Shots for Tots" for a chance to win $10,000 as well as the 70-plus Toys for Tots boxes Sondra
maintains in the community, it looks like the 2012 Toys for Tots campaign may be bigger than ever!
2012 marks the second annual Sweet Dreams Event at Sondra's Fine Jewelry for the YWCA
of Northeastern New York to assist in providing women with clean blankets, pillows and bedding.
Last year, Sondra's
collected more than 200 pillows and blankets within three hours by encouraging people to bring their old and broken gold to the event.
donated 100 percent of the proceeds to the YWCA
, which helped them purchase 10 new beds.
Word of the success has spread, and Sondra
has decided to make this an annual event.
Late last year, Hurricane Irene wrought enormous devastation on our community.
From a truly grassroots effort, Sondra
started the Hurricane Irene Flood Victims Coat Drive.
was expecting perhaps 100 or 200 coats, but when all was said and done, with the help of her
clients, neighbors and Wal-Mart
, Ellis Medicine
and First Niagara Bank, she
collected more than 1200 coats.
most vivid memory is the faces of the children who had lost everything and were desperately in need of a new coat to start the winter.
Animals need help, too, so Sondra
got involved with the Animal Protective Foundation
created a line of "Precious Paws" jewelry featuring dog and cat paws in gold or silver with or without gemstones to commemorate the adoption, birth or passing of a beloved animal.
donates 30% of each sale of the items in this line to the Animal Protective Foundation
to help them purchase what they need to keep the shelter running.
passion to help others with many other organizations.
"I am very passionate about giving back to the community which has been so loyal and good to me throughout the years.
I believe that any woman can realize her
dream, and it's important to me to reach out and help whenever and wherever I can," said Sondra