For Judith McFadden, Samaritan Community’s Clothes Closet volunteer manager, helping members find new clothes is about much more than a new dress or shirt. It’s about how those clothes can affect a person and how they feel. There’s a sense of pride that comes with new clothes, and this pride is often missing in many of our members’ lives.
“I love it when we put a nice jacket on a man, one that fits and is of good quality,” says Judith. “His shoulders straighten his posture improves. Sometimes, women come back and show us their how they look in their new outfits. A new look works wonders in how we feel about ourselves.”
But Judith does even more than help a member find clothes. She often becomes source of support for people experiencing a wide range of emotions, from great excitement to worry to despair.
“Perhaps they need clothes for a job interview or to wear to church. But we also see people who have lost or gained weight because of illness or medication, and need clothing to fit their new body,” she says. “One young mother, unemployed due to a major health crisis and suddenly widowed, was able to find school outfits for her two boys. And something pretty for herself.”
In addition to Judith, other members of Samaritan Community come in to help organize the clothes and household items available at the Shop, and to help on the “sales floor.” And that’s what makes the Shop special for Judith—and for so many others: the sense of community that resides there.
“All of us, helpers and shoppers, really feel like a community—a real community—as we hear stories and share good news,” she says. “We offer encouragement and give hugs, as needed.”
While her professional background includes public affairs, community relations, and teaching, Judith has always volunteered. “It is part of who I am,” she says.
“Whenever anybody asks, I tell them I have the best volunteer job! I make people look good and feel good about how they look,” she says. “What a blessing.”
For more information about Samaritan Community, visit their website.