Stringing together hope to benefit at-risk kids

January 16, 2014 at 4:01 pm


Who doesn’t love to hear heartwarming stories about Amway Independent Business Owners (IBOs) doing incredible things to support the work of the U.S. Dream Academy (USDA) with at-risk children? Even better? A story about the child of an IBO investing their time to help the kids served by the Dream Academy!

Ashlei Carlson, daughter of Robert and Barbara Carlson of Hackettstown, New Jersey, was 10 years old when she first saw USDA CEO Whitley Phipps speak at an IBO business function. “He was telling [us] about how the U.S. Dream Academy was started and as I listened to him talk about the statistics of the children of incarcerated parent(s). I was devastated. I could not wrap my head around the fact that these innocent children might never become who God intended them to be…” she explained. “It was wrong and I needed to find a way to help.”

And help she did. Ashlei taught herself to craft beads and jewelry and began selling her pieces and donating the money to the Dream Academy.  Her first company—Dream Beads—was born. “I knew from years of my parents donating to the USDA that we always received a letter thanking us for our donation. Ashlei decided to let her customers decide how much they wanted to pay and asked them to make their checks out to the USDA.  “I mail the checks directly to the Dream Academy. That way my customers receive a [thank you] letter directly from the Dream Academy,” she explains. “My parents have always encouraged me to be a server, reminding me daily that life will never be all about me, but more about the difference I can make elsewhere. What better place to attempt to make a difference.”

Today, at 17, Ashlei is relentless in her drive to change the world. She followed in her parents’ footsteps and became an Amway IBO. She works tirelessly with the issue of helping at-risk children, even involving her high school’s National Honor Society, of which she is the President. Ashlei does not intend to stop her advocacy. “When I go off to college next year, I will continue to be an ambassador for the children, and the USDA.”

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