Our Story – Iowa

Gems of Hope was inspired by Tory, a 9-year-old living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. While her mother was in treatment for cancer, Tory wrote daily notes of encouragement, leaving them where her mother would see them. The pair also attended art therapy classes together. Tory’s mother recognized that the love behind the notes and the opportunity to create art, as well as the information she found in her reading, were valuable components in her recovery. She joined two friends also affected by cancer in founding a non-profit organization that would extend these components to others.

Gems of Hope promotes what medical research now supports: developing one’s spirituality can encourage feelings of optimism and hope and, thus, healing. Gems of Hope was founded to share hope with others.


Gems of Hope, Inc. was founded in July of 2005 to share hope with others.

Gems of Hope, Inc. Founders
Beth Hammell, Sheila Harman, and Cindy Sale
October 2006

Gems of Hope was founded in July of 2005.  Sheila Harman and Beth Hammell had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous year.  Sheila, inspired to help other cancer patients as they went through their treatment, called Beth and another friend, Cindy Sale who had been a caregiver to her brother with cancer.  Together these three women with the help of the Cedar Rapids community launched Gems of Hope, Inc. to support men and women during their cancer treatments.

Sheila lost her battle with breast cancer in April of 2008, nearly three years after she started Gems of Hope.  As co-founders of the organization with her, we will continue to work hard to inspire and bring hope to all cancer patients as they go through treatment.  It was an honor to be asked to part of Sheila’s dream.

Tribute to Sheila 11/27/59 – 4/5/08 written by her oldest daughter, Sydney.

Whenever my mom looked at a person, place or thing she saw it not as what it was, but rather as what it could be. She saw potential everywhere and spent her life pushing those around her to blossom and reach goals they wouldn’t dare to set for themselves.   Whether you were 9 or 90, mom would instantly make you feel like an old friend… and if you hung around for an hour or two, she would have you committed, in one way or another, to changing your life for the better.

I could fill many, many pages with the lessons I learned from Sheila Harman, but the most salient thing she ever taught me by example was the exquisiteness of living joyfully. I do not mean to say she was always happy; mom had worries and fears and frustrations like everyone else. The difference was the joy with which she was always filled- a gift from God that gave her the ability to appreciate and make the most of every moment, no matter how insignificant or even painful it might be. She was fueled by this gratitude, the love of her ever growing group of family and friends, and most of all by her faith.

As everyone who worked with her knows well, mom had a keen eye for possibilities, but somehow was completely blind to whatever practical obstacles stood between her and her latest idea. This quality sometime drove us crazy, but it’s what’s made us who we are today. It’s what turned Gems of Hope from a few phone calls and emails to a reality. I know mom would be so proud of what Gems has become… a source of love and support for those who truly need it, and perhaps more importantly a way for those who volunteer to learn the joy that comes from living beyond oneself, and seeing things not as they are, but as they could be.


Sheila Harman with Pastor Perry of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church

  • Artist: Rev. Perry J. Fruhling
  • Title: St Marks Sermon 36 For Jan 28
  • Year: 2007
  • Length: 14:01 minutes (9.62 MB)
  • Format: MP3 Stereo 44kHz 96Kbps (CBR)

Upcoming Events in Iowa

Jun 09

Beading & Card Making Workshop @ Helen G. Nassif CCC

June 9 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm CDT
Cedar Rapids
Jun 16

Beading & Card Making @ Benchmark Inc., Conference Room

June 16 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm CDT
Cedar Rapids
Jun 18

Beading & Card Making Daytime Workshop @ Gems of Hope

June 18 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm CDT
Cedar Rapids
Jun 25

Beading & Card Making Workshop @ Hope Lodge in Iowa City

June 25 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm CDT
Iowa City
Jul 14

Beading & Card Making Workshop @ Hall Perrine

July 14 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm CDT
Cedar Rapids