Proximity Matters

by Jill Aschkenasy

Proximity matters. What do I mean by that? I mean that in order to know someone you have to be physically close to them. You need to share space and spend time together to really connect. I didn’t realize how true this was until I saw it manifest in Our Closet.

Every day we are in different neighborhoods interacting with our shoppers and our community partners, and that is what makes it all work. We are getting to know the people we serve on a deeper level because we meet them where they are, in their local communities, rather than having them have to come to us in one particular place. They are shopping in familiar surroundings, near places and people they know, and that leads to a higher comfort level and a breaking of barriers. We have conversations with our shoppers as they select their items and try them on- and we talk about what matters TO THEM. This model is working because proximity matters. It makes all the difference.

Don’t get me wrong- I understand that you can’t always learn about someone just from sharing the same space, but I certainly believe that without getting proximate and being physically together, it is much more challenging to accomplish that goal. Spending time together breeds conversation, often about important life topics, but more often than not, it is the time spent together about less important topics where deep connection is made. The mindless, silly chatter that happens when we are helping a woman select a dress for church or a young man select an outfit for his first job interview, is when we really get to know our shoppers, learn their struggles and triumphs, and gain insight into what they need and how we can do our jobs better to help them achieve their goals.

As Our Closet morphs and changes, we will tweak our program. But this idea of close and deep connection will always be at the core of our work because, after all, Proximity Matters.

UPDATE: We are currently planning two pop-up shops for the month of September. Check back here and on our social media channels (@ourclosetpa) for dates. We will post them as soon as they are scheduled. All in need are welcome to shop at our pop-up shops, and, as always, shopping will be first-come, first-serve with limits on the amount of people who can shop at one time. Due to rising COVID-19 rates and the prevalence of the Delta variant, we recommend all shoppers get vaccinated, and all will be required to wear a mask over the mouth and nose and observe all safety instructions.

If you or a client of yours is in urgent need of clothing, we have an emergency clothing program for which you or the client may qualify. Please contact us at JFCS' Care Navigation line, 866-532-7669, if you are seeking emergency services, and you will be sent a form to fill out. Please remember this program is for emergencies only.