Do you have a few hours to spare to volunteer on a great-cause painting crew this week or next? If so, you'll be part of a very special space being created for helping others move forward with major life transition.
Albert Einstein said: "Strive not to be a success but to be of value". These are wise and simple words to live by, especially for those who are readying to re-enter the workforce after a period of significant personal struggle, such as homelessness.
Committee on the Shelterless (COTS) Work Ready Program Leader (and Rapid Re-Housing Program Manager) Jenna Garcia knows more than most how a person's self-esteem receives the biggest boost when dressed the part and re-trained for job interviews.
It has been two years since the dynamic former corporate recruiter hired on in the non-profit world, at COTS, having made her move to work on the flip side of big business, placing former transient people back into the workplace. Hundreds have gone through the shelter's Work Ready Program, striving to be of value, in the past year. Though hugely gratifying to Jenna, she had even more developments for this outstanding program in mind. "Apart from computer skill training, the biggest need is work clothes," she said.
This holiday season marks the visualization of Jenna's dream to create a Professional Clothing Closet for Work Ready clients to come shop in for free. Thanks to collaborative energy within the community, a bright and brand new streetfront store space in Petaluma's riverfront warehouse district (generously donated for use by Basin Street Properties), is currently under interior construction and design.
Jenna knew just who to call on as community-consultant on design. Petaluma-based, award-winning Do-It-Yourself blogger and long-time COTS supporter, Kate Riley of Centsational Girl is donating her (and husband, Matt's) time and resources to the ambitious project.
"Volunteering with COTS on transitional housing remodels has been extremely fulfilling, over the past few years" said Kate. "The new Work Clothes Shop is another wonderful way for COTS to provide suitable attire for clients to show up as available work candidates".
Professional work attire is not restricted to office clothing. Chefs coats, trades outfits and footwear, all sorts of employment outfitting will be available at the all-volunteer-run, specific-hour or appointment-only store that was previously used as a storage space by COTS.
"No cash will change hands," said Jenna. "Purchasing professional clothing is beyond the income level of our clients, who will be able to come in and try on work clothes in a comfortable environment, with fitting rooms".
Jenna and Kate utilize technology with a Pinterest Board for design ideas for transforming the formerly bare-bones space. Volunteer tradespeople have created a space that is soon to be painted, carpeted and fitted out with garment racks. Kate utilized her website sponsorship connection Lowes for much of the materials for this otherwise completely unfunded project.
"We'll be looking for help during two volunteer weekends to paint and set up display cases," said Kate. "It is our goal to have the store ready for a holiday open house (to be announced)".
The time is right to step up to help. If you have a few hours free over the next couple of weeks, pull out your painting gear.
St.Vincent de Paul High School art students are readying large, colorful canvases for wall decoration.
COTS does not need additional work clothes donations this fall, but will put out a call for specific items in 2015. To volunteer on a painting crew this October, please contact Jenna Garcia immediatelty at 707 765 6530 ext 117.