When Bob Jadis left his hometown in Nova Scotia as a youth, his father said to him, “Son, if nothing else, I want you to remember to always put back more into the community than you take out.” Those parting words etched themselves onto Bob’s heart. He went on to contribute countless volunteer hours at various organizations and even formed a charitable jazz band, “Souper Jazz,” that plays to this day in support of the soup kitchen in Ottawa. Now, at 83 years old and residing in the South Surrey-White Rock area, Bob continues to think of novel ways to give back to his community.
In January 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions required British Columbians to refrain from travelling, Bob and his wife Trude stayed home. The retired couple normally took a trip at this time of year, so Bob decided a project was needed – something that would help bring money to the local food bank, where he volunteered for five years, as he knew lots of people were struggling and SOURCES needed help to serve them.
“We needed to see what we could do to help, and it grew from there,” Trude said.
The idea that came to light once again married his artistic talents with his passion for supporting community: firefly lanterns.
“Instead of painting on big canvasses, Bob got the idea to use wine bottles. He started playing around with them and got talking to our neighbour who suggested adding a string of little LED lights. They ordered some in, put them into the bottle and, well, it was beautiful. That was the beginning and we have been painting up a storm ever since,” Trude said.
The effect of the lights inside the bottle reminded them of fireflies inside a lantern and thus the name was born. Trude began taking the painted wine bottles around to her leisure and friend groups, who bought them all up. More people began to learn about the firefly lanterns and by the end of January Bob and Trude collected their first $1,000!
“We decided the price would be $50 per 750 mL bottle and 100 per cent would go to the Sources White Rock/South Surrey Food Bank,” Trude said.
Following a feature story in the Peace Arch News, demand skyrocketed. Soon it became impossible for Bob to paint quickly enough, so the couple enlisted the help of their neighbours. Serendipitously, there were many talented artistic people in their building! One neighbour knew how to do glass etching and worked on larger 1.5 L engraved bottles which sold for $150 each.
The “Firefly Lantern Club” raised their next thousand dollars by February 13th, and the next thousand by the 17th. Some people purchased just one bottle but many purchased several at once – even 12 at a time! – for gifts or for their own collection. From grapevines to butterflies, each wine bottle is unique and decorated by hand. They also accept custom orders.
“One person wanted a mermaid swimming underwater. Another wanted a black cat with gold eyes. One lady, who is a twice-over breast cancer survivor, asked us to design a bottle with a white dove holding a pink ribbon in its beak, with the text ‘thank you’ and a heart on it, as a gift for her doctor.”
Trude estimates they have painted 200 wine bottles since the project started – and they have been able to donate $9,000 to the Food Bank!
“We all really enjoy it and are happy to paint. It has been really purposeful.”
Bob says his goal is to reach $10,000. Trude is confident they’ll surpass that by Christmas.
Those interested in purchasing a firefly lantern can find them at the Pelican Rouge Café in White Rock or by contacting Trude directly at email@example.com or 778-292-1077 .
Thank you to Bob and Trude Jadis and the Firefly Lantern Club for turning your talents into profits for our community!