The Tale of the Traveling Charm Bracelet

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

At Altruette we’re always inspired by amazing causes and the work they do to help others in need. But we’re also moved by stories about friendship. So when we heard this story about a group of women in the NYC area, we couldn’t help but share it with you.

The Girl Group has been together for more than two decades. Over the past 25 years, the nine “girls” (Deirdre Virgie, Danica Nedela, Kathy Hobbs, Alison Cirenza, Andrea Costello, Sharon Kiernan, Diane Greer, Kathleen O'Neill Lynch, Sheila Riordan) have developed close, sister-like friendships. Some met in college, a few grew up together, others met as co-workers and roommates during their post-college NYC days and some were all those things! The group is now spread across the Tri-State area, Boston and Atlanta but they keep in touch through e-mails and phone calls and set off for regularly getaways together wherever and whenever they can.

“During a weekend away at one of the girl’s beach houses in Rhode Island a few years ago, we were talking about the story of the traveling pants and someone mentioned hearing about a group that shared a diamond necklace,” says Kathleen O’Neill Lynch. “And then someone suggested we share a charm bracelet.” It would be the perfect symbol of their tight friendships, they thought, but also a way to highlight who they each were as individuals. Each friend would wear the bracelet for her birthday month and then pass it along to the next birthday girl in the group.

“Would the idea, concocted over wine, ever come to fruition?,” wondered Kathleen. “I was doubtful that this often over-committed, somewhat far-flung group of wives and caregivers, moms and stepmoms, urbanites and suburbanites, Wall Streeters and media types, board members and volunteers, would be able to pull it off.” So convinced it wouldn’t happen, Kathleen bet against her friends. “If the bracelet came together within the year, I would treat everyone to a lobster dinner.” And to her surprise, it did. (She eventually added a lobster charm to commemorate that special dinner.) Andrea, one of the busiest of the bunch, had a gold bracelet her mother had given her and added the first charm to get things going. 

The hand-offs are sometimes in person, sometimes mailed, and frequently late. But that's okay, says the group. As lives have become more complicated, the bracelet has risen to the occasion. It’s transitioned from a birthday bracelet to a support bracelet. It spent time with one friend when her husband had major surgery. Another friend had it during a personal family crisis.  And a few friends have depended on it to help get through the death of a parent. “What started out as a lighthearted way to mark each of our birthdays,” says Kathleen, “has evolved into a symbol of support for challenging times as well. When something in life goes amiss, it's wonderfully comforting to know that the power of the bracelet–which is really the love of these incredibly thoughtful, long-term friends–is close at hand.”

Here at Altruette we are so moved by their story that we are sending them each a charm that represents their favorite charity.

Do you have a “charming story”? Send it to us at 

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