FreshBooks is all about helping the little guys. Usually that means helping people who are just starting out in business, but in one case we are helping people who are starting over in life.
Mistakes are easy…
26 years ago, Del Hendrixson made a mistake that cost her a year and changed her life forever. She made the mistake of helping people the wrong way. She forged documents to give illegal immigrants in the United States access to basic social services.
A year in prison does things to people. A working graphic designer before, she lost it all when she went to prison. Then she lost her way. As she tells it, “prison is a very traumatic experience. You have no choice but to become a survivalist. When you come back to society, you come back a Rambo. People who have never been through it don’t realize it, and so they don’t comprehend what they are messing with.”
… but starting over is hard.
After Del paid her dues back to society, she faced the same fate as every other ex-convict. She couldn’t find work. “I kept applying for jobs after I got out, but they asked me if I was incarcerated and I had to say yes.” Finally, one day a sympathetic soul reached out his hand to help, an event that changed her whole life. “If I could design the logos and sell the jobs, he would teach me how to screenprint. He said he had done things in life he regretted so he promised to help me. I promised to give back to others if he helped me.”
“Jesus in a Mullet” — Dallas Observer
She made good on that promise. In a big way. In 1982, starting with $20 in her garage, she founded Bajito Onda, a 501(c)(3) charity to help former prisoners rebuild their lives and reconnect with society by teaching them creative professions like printing, design, and publishing.
Our reason for being is educational, cultural, empowerment and equality. It’s the reputation of Bajito Onda that represent the people who don’t have a face or voice in society.
The difference she has made is astounding. Over 25 years, she has personally trained over 10,000 people in Dallas to be self-sufficient, contributing members of society. She has presented to the United Nations. She has grown her organization to include half a million of members from around the world, from America to El Salvador to Honduras to Africa. She likes to call them her underground family.
Helping through art.
Bajito Onda is well known for its extensive collection of prisoner art made by members of the Bajito Onda family. Del started collecting after she was tapped to organize prisoner art shows where prisoners never got a penny in return. Del decided it would be better to do something to give back to the artists. So, she started her the Bajito Onda Prison and Street art gallery that collected everything from wood and leather works, to airbrushed bandanas (panos), to paintings.
“I hated to sell the originals because once the original was gone, we couldn’t do anything else with it. I started scanning their art and printing it on t-shirts in my shop,” she explains. And of course, because it represented Bajito Onda, “when they got out of prison, I helped them get a job as artists or to become their own printers.”
A new business!
This month, Bajito Onda launched their clothing line of authentic Hispanic prisoner art. Funds from the sales will go directly into supporting Bajito Onda’s charitable works. They also hope it will inspire other prisoners to join the Bajito Onda family.
Bajito Onda streetwear and merchandise is currently distributed Changes of New York and Bioworld Merchandise of Las Colinas, Texas. You can also buy directly online from the Bajito Onda CafePress store.
How does FreshBooks fit in
Bajito Onda uses FreshBooks to manage invoicing for shipments. I’ll let Del explain it in her own words.
A few years ago, I was going crazy trying to figure out a way to invoice people. We were still doing it the old fashioned way: with paper. A lot of things happen when you’re sitting alone in the warehouse at night. I wondered if there was some sort of ‘online invoicing’ tool, so I searched for it. And boom! There it was.
My clients accepted it. It wasn’t handwritten. It looked professional. Trackable. Downloadable. Really efficient. I contacted FreshBooks and they agreed to donate the service to our foundation.
Del, we’re happy to help out such an inspiring organization! Congratulations on the new online clothing store!