How did the idea of Anney’s Closet evolve?
A couple of years ago, one of our Women’s Opportunity Award recipients requested a laptop instead of our usual cash award. At the award celebration, our Soroptimist club members began asking her if she needed a bed, or household items, or other things they could donate. Soon she was supplied with many things to set up her new life.
The idea of Anney’s Closet was born. Through discussion with our contacts at Boys and Girls Club, social workers and youth advocates, we confirmed there are many youth in our community who start out with nothing other than their clothes when they age out of the foster care system at age 18, or when they sign youth agreements between the ages of 16-18. Some of them are pregnant or parenting at the same time. The social workers thought our “free store” shopping sprees would be an incredible opportunity for these youths.
When we first began Anney’s Closet, we were reaching out to local social service agencies to get the word out. Among the first agencies was the Boys and Girls Club’s Care Home Parenting Program. The program then functioned as a group home for young pregnant women, giving them a micro apartment for the months they lived onsite. While in the group home for the last months of their pregnancies and first months of their babies’ lives, they received lessons in budgeting and home management, infant care, and other programs aimed at making them successful in their new roles as single mums. When SIVW met with the executive director, she stated that her desire was to have a rocking chair for each client for her stay at the home, which the mum could take with her when she and baby left. The director hoped for “rocking circles” where these lessons could be directed to the young mums while they and baby could be rocking and bonding in a large circle with the other mums. We stepped into the role of finding the rockers. We didn’t keep an accurate count, but one order alone was for 28 rocking chairs, and others were in the range of 10 to 15. We estimate 45 to 50 rockers were provided to CHPP through our requests to the community and friends. The program came to an end when CHPP changed its format.
Club member Anney Ardiel shared to the club that she sends truckloads of beautiful household items to charity every month when helping to downsize seniors. The idea was born – why not redirect some of the very nicest things to help youth in our community who are starting out on their own?
When we asked West Shore U-Lock Mini Storage if they would donate a locker on an ongoing basis for us to house Anney’s Closet, they offered their largest locker and their staff even contributed donated items to the locker.
We formed committees, recruited volunteers and sponsors, and found more social service agencies helping youth in our community. After a year of hard work, Anney’s Closet officially launched on June 8, 2013.