Shopping at the YWCA’s Clothing Boutique is about dignity. It’s about pride. And sometimes it’s simply a nice distraction from the challenges that life can bring.
The Clothing Boutique is exclusively for women living in the YWCA’s emergency shelter and is open to residents one hour a week. That’s an hour many women living at the shelter look forward to.
“It’s just so awesome to see them when they come to shop,” said Dionna Venable, the YWCA’s volunteer coordinator. “They say they feel like they’ve been shopping at the mall. They’re so excited. That does something to me – helping build them up and let them know they matter because they are often forgotten about. They matter, too.”
Each woman at the shelter has a set number of items she can get at the Boutique each month. The shop is stocked with items donated by the community.
Some women look for outfits that they can wear for an upcoming job interview. And others may be trying to build up their clothing closet after arriving at the shelter with only the clothes on their backs.
Shelter resident Jennifer Crosby said she has found clothing, purses and Christmas gifts for her older children at the Boutique.
“It’s a nice way to do something good for yourself,” she said.
Venable said she knows from experience to get the shop open promptly at 10 a.m. each Tuesday because residents are eager to see what new items have been put out since the last week.
But for Venable, the shop is about much more than helping women pick out an outfit. The connections made are what matters.
“Even if a woman does come in here and she’s not having the greatest morning, just the conversation can be uplifting,” she said. “I try to make sure she feels better once she walks out of here.”