Adapting to a New Way of Being

by Melanie London

Today is my 14-year wedding anniversary and my two-month quarantine anniversary. Obviously the 14 years have had the hugest impact, but the two-month anniversary? That one’s pretty life-changing as well. For me and for all of us. And for Our Closet, too.

What we’re most known for around the city is our pop-up shops. Clothing, community and connection at 18 different locations, some monthly, some quarterly, and a few a couple times a year. An average of eight per month where we see our regulars, meet so many new shoppers and volunteers, and come together in a warm, welcoming space while providing free, quality clothing. It’s just a positive and energetic vibe, and we miss it so much.

We might not be able to hold our shops right now, but there is still so much need. In fact, with so many people out of work and assistance slow to come or beyond reach, there is more need than we’ve ever seen. So we’ve adapted and launched our emergency services program for individuals in urgent need. With our dedicated staff we’ve been able to run logistics, prepare customized clothing packages with needed items, and deliver these packages safely and with no contact. Since we began the new program, we have delivered close to 60 packages to those experiencing devastation from fires, escaping violent situations at home, awaiting the birth of a new baby, experiencing reentry, preparing for a virtual job interview, and many other urgent circumstances.

This program delivery (literally… delivering straight to those in need) is not what we’re known for, and not what we’ve done in the past, but luckily we’ve been able to pivot after much thoughtful planning, and it’s what we’re doing NOW and will do until this crisis is over. We’ve all had to adapt over the past couple months, and we will have to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It’s what’s required to take care of our families, our communities and ourselves during this difficult and confusing time. But we’re adapting together, and together we will make it through.

Please join us for our next pop-up shops at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 23 South 38th Street in University City, from 10am-12pm. They will take place on Thursday, May 26, and Thursday, June 30. You must show proof of vaccination at the door in order to enter and shop, and masks must be worn inside. We look forward to seeing you!

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.

BIG NEWS: Our Closet has been chosen as a finalist for the city’s Community Champions Awards & Grants Challenge. The top vote-getters will receive $20,000 grants! These funds would allow us to reach even more Philadelphians in need, but we need your help. Online voting is from May 18-25, so please register, vote, & share far and wide to help us win: Vote Here!