Clothing With a Cause

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women. These women often leave their homes with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. The Oklahoma City YWCA provides programs that help abused women regain their dignity, self-esteem and lives. One program, Our Sisters’ Closet, began in Oklahoma City in 2007 and expanded to Edmond in October 2010. The YWCA’s vision was to meet the clothing needs of battered women and to establish a sustainable source of revenue for the YWCA while offering a unique shopping experience for the OKC and Edmond communities.

The YWCA’s international mission is “empowering women and eliminating racism” and each branch focuses on different aspects. Oklahoma City’s YWCA is the only certified emergency shelter in Oklahoma County and it deals with domestic violence and sexual assault issues concerning women. Cindy Reynolds, OKC Director of Retail Development for the YWCA, said, “It’s a sad reality that people in all walks of life are made to feel unworthy. Many of our clients walk away from everything, but thankfully they walk away with their life. The misconception is that it’s always low-income or young women. We’ve had older women walk away from beautiful homes and a life where they never had to want for anything. It takes courage to walk away from an abusive relationship. We provide shelter and meet their needs while helping them take the right steps to regain their lives.”

The YWCA helps these women through Our Sisters’ Closet, a resale clothing boutique that operates through donations from the community. “People’s lives change for different reasons. We love it when ladies clean out their closet. We take the same quality clothing and household items you’d want in your home or closet. We research the items and price accordingly because we’re also in business to help fund the YWCA.” We are a high quality resale shop offering stylish clothing in excellent condition,” said Reynolds.

The YWCA clients, with aid from their advocates, receive clothing and household items at no charge. For these women, beautiful, quality clothing often makes a difference in their outlook on life. “We’ve had clients share with us the different ways Our Sisters’ Closet has impacted them; women who’ve escaped with only the clothes on their back and mothers without school clothes for their children until we provided them. One of the most memorable moments was a young lady that came to us needing court-appropriate clothing. She literally looked like she had clouds hanging over her head. We gave her a stylish Harold’s blazer, heels, earrings and black slacks to put on. When she came out, tears were streaming down her pretty face and it was like the sun was shining on her. We all noticed, applauded and cried with her. She went to court and won. It’s amazing how clothes can empower a woman at a difficult time in their life. We’re proud of what we do even though it’s the simplest of things. We also want to provide a pleasant shopping experience for the public. Maybe you’ll find that Ann Taylor shell and pay $8 instead of $80,” said Reynolds.

Our Sisters’ Closet is just one way the YWCA helps women. The YWCA provides immediate emergency shelter for more than 300 women and children every year with individual services to more than 14,000 from Oklahoma as well as women from other states and countries. They also offer transitional housing, counseling and advocates to help clients get their lives back.

Even though the YWCA receives funding from the United Way and private benefactors, and is awarded grants for specific programs, the demand for their services has steadily increased. “Our stores have brought more awareness to the community about the YWCA services. The response from the Edmond community has been welcoming and supportive. When women find out what we do, it’s a magnet that draws them to us. Most of our customers know someone who’s been in that kind of situation. You never know who’s going to knock on your door and need our help,” said Reynolds.

Donations are welcome at both locations:

In Edmond at 101 E. Hurd three blocks north of Second Street, halfway between Broadway and Boulevard. Phone: 348-2448 Tues-Sat. 10-5

In Oklahoma City at 2209 W. I-240 Service Road, the northwest corner of I-240 and Pennsylvania in the Walnut Square Shopping Center. Mon-Sat. 10-6

For more information about the YWCA, call
948-1770 or visit www.ywcaokc.org.

Additional resources:

The Oklahoma State Safe Line: 800-522-7233
YWCA Domestic Violence Hotline: 917-9922
YWCA Sexual Assault Hotline: 943-7273

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