November 2017 Newsletter

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Making Living Wages Work november 2017

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november news

Several times a year Orange County Living Wage organizes buycotts of living wage employers. Buycotts focus on one living wage employer for a specific day and time. The goal is to bring them more business and highlight their commitment to living wages.

The Public House is Mystery Brewing’s award-winning restaurant, serving lunch and dinner seven days a week. Bring your family and any leftover guests to the Public House on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Enjoy a delicious meal and a living wage beer – and tell them thanks for being living wage certified!

Longtime Orange County resident Rachel Mehalek is Orange County Living Wage’s new Certification Coordinator. Rachel will build our network of living wage business contacts and help steer our upcoming Aspiring Employers program. Welcome aboard, Rachel!


Videographer Jeff Hardin will be back in Orange County this winter winter to film a new series of living wage videos. Last year Jeff filmed employers talking about why they pay living wages. This time around, Jeff will film the stories of employees who earn a living wage. Contact Susan Romaine at to suggest an employee for the new series.

The drawing draws near! OCLW’s consumer pledge campaign wraps up on 11/28. See here for details. If you’re the winner, you can donate to one of our nonprofits, repair your car at F &F Automotive or AutoLogic, enjoy a delicious meal at a living wage restaurant, etc. The $250 can be spent with any three living wage employers. The drawing is on 12/1, and we’ll notify the winner by email.

Employers, will you help publicize your partnership with OCLW? Please include our decal on your website, Twitter and Facebook, and in newsletters and ads. It’s a great way to identify your business as a community leader and help spread the word about living wages. Email for a pdf of our beautiful decal.




Melissa Booth grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, where her early passion was art. In high school and college she explored drawing, painting, and sculpture. She was offered her first job at a custom jewelry store when just a junior at the University of Wisconsin. While earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, she advanced from metal polisher to award-winning designer, and never looked back.

Melissa did, however, look south. When she visited Hillsborough for the first time in 1998, “that was it – I was smitten.” She rented studio space above Bandido’s Cantina, and now, nearly 20 years later, is on her third Churton Street location. 

The shop at 116 S. Churton Street features a stunning selection of Melissa’s hand-crafted earrings, bracelets, pendants, rings, and more. Melissa creates custom designs and showcases local and international jewelry artists. She also offers jewelry repair and watch batteries. 

When Melissa designs a piece, she questions her client closely, then works on her own to sketch out the piece’s possibilities. “I’ll sit down in pajamas with my coffee cup and draw, draw, draw. I might draw a dozen different designs.” She presents lots of options, then works with her customer to fine tune the right combination of stone, color, and texture.

Melissa’s art is grounded in expert craftsmanship and customer-centered communication. But sustainability is also a key aspect of her work. Melissa buys all her fine gemstones from AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) members, who pledge ethical sourcing of natural colored gemstones and cultured pearls. And she works with used gold that has been refined, purified, and put back into the marketplace. “There’s a lot of recycling – even gold dust gets reused.” 

Melissa certified her business as a living wage employer in the summer of 2017. She has a strong commitment to community and appreciates the county’s diverse mix of people.

“A living wage helps every person who contributes to our vibrant business community to be able to live where they work.”  

The gift-giving season is gearing up, so plan your visit to Melissa Designer Jewelry in Hillsborough soon.



living wage roster at 135!

We are thrilled to announce our most recently certified living wage employers.

Vacuum Cleaner Hospital has been keeping floors clean since 1986. Find them on Elliott Road in Chapel Hill for new vacuums and cleaning supplies, along with expert repair services.

Learning Outside is a kids’ outdoor learning program on 269 acres of pasture, forest and wetlands at Triangle Land Conservancy’s Irvin Nature Preserve. Through their year-round classes and summer camps, Learning Outside opens doors for personal discovery in the natural world.

Since 1994 Music Maker Relief Foundation has worked with over 300 acclaimed Southern musicians to overcome obstacles of poverty and increase recognition of their unique talents and contributions.

Please find our complete list of 135 living wage employers here. Bring them your business and your thanks for the important work they do every day in Orange County.



With federal tax legislation looming, here’s a piece from EconoFact (The Fletcher School at Tufts University) on the likelihood of corporate tax cuts raising wages for workers.

Our nation recently honored veterans with a national holiday. Many veterans would also appreciate a pay raise. Economic Policy Institute details how raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would benefit 1 out of every 5 veterans working in America.

AirBnB’s newly introduced Living Wage Pledge identifies hosts who agree to pay their cleaners a living wage. Guests can look for the Living Wage Pledge badge on participating listings.

Thank you for all of your support in this voluntary effort to promote a living wage in Orange County.
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Orange County Living Wage Steering Committee
Mike Andrews, Susan Attermeier, John Barrow, Kimberly Brewer, Victoria Freeman, Claire Home, Chris Lathrop, Mark Marcoplos, Susan Romaine, Ariane Sanders
Copyright © 2017 Orange County Living Wage, All rights reserved.

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