January 2, 2024

Mission Moment – Our Sister’s Closet Volunteers

About Our Sister’s Closet

Our Sister’s Closet (OSC) is a free boutique of women’s clothing and necessities. It is available to anyone in the community who could benefit from this resource regardless of gender; clients do not have to prove income level or identify as survivors of intimate partner violence in order to access this resource.

A Volunteer Powered Program

From sorting donations, organizing the closet, and serving clients, OSC is powered by a team of amazing volunteers. Over the last few years, transitioning into a volunteer run program has freed up our staff members to lead other valuable offerings within the Women’s Opportunity Center (WOC).

“If we didn’t have volunteers, Our Sister’s Closet wouldn’t be able to function,” says Teresa Dixon, WOC Services Coordinator who oversees the Closet and volunteers.

Sarah G. has been volunteering with Our Sister’s Closet for two years now, supporting clients while they shop.

“Our Sister’s Closet is all about instilling confidence in clients,” says Sarah.

She describes the closest as dignified. It is a place where people can get a basic human need fulfilled and be empowered in the process. OSC clients are often the type of individuals who take care of other people first, but Sarah shares that “they deserve the opportunity to prioritize self-care. I am privileged to volunteer at a place that enables them to do so.”

Volunteer

Impact of OSC

There are many reasons why someone may want to utilize Our Sister’s Closet. Clothes wear out, no longer fit correctly, or situations change and a new outfit is needed for school or work. Individuals in domestic violence situations may not have the personal or financial freedom to get new clothes or perhaps they had to flee a situation suddenly. Anyone in the community who wears women’s clothing can utilize the Closet once a year. For some clients, they come back to the Closet annually to refresh their wardrobe because this is their only opportunity to get new clothes.

Over the last year, we have built connections and started serving more refugee and immigrant women. During one appointment, the client shared with Teresa that she only had the clothes she was wearing, having to leave everything else behind. For clients like this, it may be financially impossible to go out and purchase new clothes, so having access to OSC can help them feel more settled and prepared for whatever is next.

The Closet’s Capacity

Teresa shared that her biggest need in the Closet right now is more volunteers. Currently, she leads a team of six volunteers. Together, they are able to serve about 18 clients a week. If she had a full team of volunteers, the Closet could serve almost double the clients with 30 people a week or 120 people a month.

Having at least six more volunteers would allow the Closet to serve the community at full capacity. If OSC had ten more volunteers, donation sorting and organizing the back room would be smoother. There would also be additional volunteers to fill scheduling gaps when others are out on vacation.

About Volunteering in Our Sister’s Closet

Soroptomist International supporting Our Sister’s Closet!

Most OSC volunteers come to us through Volunteer Spokane, a site provided by Spokane County United Way that is dedicated to connecting community members with volunteer opportunities. YWCA Spokane asks that volunteers for Our Sister’s Closet commit to a minimum of 2 hours per shift for at least 6 months. Volunteer positions include sorting donations, organizing the back room, and serving clients while they shop the store during appointments. These appointments are offered between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday through Thursday. Appointments last for 1.5 hours. Volunteer shifts are built to include 15 minutes before and after each appointment so there is time to prepare for the appointment and time to tidy up afterwards. On Fridays, the team focuses on organizing the boutique and sorting new donations, so there are no Closet appointments. We are also unable to provide volunteer opportunities with the Closet in the evenings or on weekends, since a staff member needs to be on site during operation. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Teresa at teresad@ywcaspokane.org.

Donations

In order to manage the flow of donations, Our Sister’s Closet now accepts donations on Tuesdays between 9am – 5pm. There are some items that are often overlooked when donating to a clothing bank.

High Need Items:

  • New Socks & new panties
  • Full-size new bottles of shampoo and conditioner
  • New Toiletries & Menstrual Products

Learn More

By: Jemma Riedel-Johnson

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