Jenny Pendley likes shopping and when she found the in downtown Naperville, her shopping habits had a life-changing effect on her and her husband Bill.
The boutique isn’t like other stores. It has a special mission to help women and children who have been or who are at risk of human trafficking or sexual slavery.
After shopping at the store and learning more about the organization’s mission, Jenny’s husband Bill is training to race an Ironman Triathlon this summer in Kentucky. His goal is to raise $3,000 for Women At Risk International, the nonprofit behind the store, which helps rescue and provide safety and skills for women at risk of being trafficked and sexually exploited.
Stepping into the WAR Chest Boutique not long after it opened last year, Jenny Pendley fell in love with the items being sold, but more than that she was taken by the meaning behind them. Women and children at risk were being saved from a life of exploitation and trafficking.
Women At Risk International (WAR) is an organization that assists women and children at risk of or who have been involved in human trafficking or sexual slavery. The women WAR helps make the items sold in the store and they benefit from learning a trade and earning an income.
“When you go into a store and you see that the jewelry has a value behind it, it adds even more to it,” Jenny Pendley said. “I’m not a big spender, but I feel really good going in there.”
Jenny Pendley has a salon in her home, Bella Veda, and she began to tell her clients about the store. They in turn began to shop at the store, which sells a variety of items such as jewelry, bags, scarves and other items.
The couple became very connected to the store and built a relationship with the boutique’s manager Ashley Pitariu.
Bill Pendley was moved to action to help the organization after one of Jenny’s friends hosted a party at the store. As part of the event, videos were shown explaining the plight of the women. A friend of his became really angry and wanted to do something to help.
Bill Pendley was also angered by what he saw. He was motivated to take his anger and aggression and channel it in training for an Ironman Triathlon, which includes a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon 26-mile run. He will participate in the Louisville Ironman on Aug. 26.
He hopes to raise $3,000 because that is the amount that puts a woman in a safe house for one year, the couple said.
“I’m not sure I can do it,” he said. “But, it motivated me to do it because these people are going through a lot more.”
Preparing for the Ironman requires many hours training alone. Bill Pendley uses the stories to help motivate him and thinks about the women and their resilience.
“I pray on it and pray about those women and children,” he said. “The incredible stories are inspiring.”
The Pendleys, who have a very strong Christian faith, attend . Bill Pendley volunteers on the church’s Benevolence team and it’s Restore program, which help people in need. The Benevolence team seeks to help those who are having financial difficulties and the Restore program helps those who may need counseling for larger problems, such as addiction.
While they strongly believe in the power of prayer, Bill Pendley said his wife has allowed him to see things differently. She once said to him, “why just pray, why not do something.”
With the race in August, Bill hopes to donate the full $3,000 to WAR International. So far he has raised more than $500.
Though she tries to give her husband more credit for taking on the race to help the nonprofit, Bill said his wife has been so supportive of him and his taking on the challenge. He credits her for being a great promoter of the WAR Chest Boutique and raising awareness about its mission.
“I just like helping people,” Jenny Pendley said. “I don’t want to see people suffer.”
Learn more about Bill Pendley's Ironman fundraiser for Women at Risk International on First Giving.