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Sweet Beginnings Offers Ex-Offenders A Second Chance With Honey

Sweet Beginnings

Sweet Beginnings offers ex-offenders a second chance with honey. (Credit: Sweet Beginnings)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Sweet Beginnings is a West Side company known Beeline line for its honey and skin care products.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, the company also gives ex-convicts a chance at developing a work history.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

“The idea behind it was to create jobs for men and women who have really been disconnected from the labor market, primarily because of their criminal backgrounds,” said Brenda Palms Barber, chief executive officer and executive director of the North Lawndale Employment Network, which runs Sweet Beginnings.

The company has three apiaries to raise the bees. Its largest is at O’Hare International Airport, where 33 beehives were set up last year in a remote, non-public area on the east side of the airfield just off the approach to runway 28.

Honey made by the bees goes into the business’ lotion, shower gel and lip balm, and of course, is edible.

“Most of our customers want a quality product – something that feels good and also does good,” Barber said.

Sweet Beginnings employs 10 to 15 people for three months. They learn skills, develop a work history and a sense of worth.

Barber says it’s working.

“Less than 4 percent of the men and women who have been hired through Sweet Beginnings have returned to crime,” she said.

The company is headquartered at 3726 W. Flournoy St. in North Lawndale. You can find Sweet Beginnings’ Beeline products online, and at some Whole Foods locations.