Local organization uses clothing to build a community and awareness

While clothing means fashion for some, for others it’s merely a necessity and basic clothing is sometimes hard to come by. It can serve as a source of comfort and instill confidence in its young wearer. Sarah Coleman knows this to be true. As Executive Director of Hope’s Closet, a children’s clothing boutique and non-profit organization in Hamilton, Coleman has seen lives transformed through the services provided by Hope’s Closet, which enriches the lives of families that are impacted by children’s services.

A few years ago, Coleman, a mother of eight—two of whom were adopted through foster care and one who is a foster child—worked with other foster parents to brainstorm ideas to improve foster homes. They wanted to not only meet physical needs, but also educate and support foster parents while transforming the community’s perception of foster care. 

“We want to love, provide and inspire foster families in our community,” Coleman expresses.

It’s not just one thing, but an entire suite of services that are available at Hope’s Closet. In addition to their clothing boutique, which provides clothes to children in foster care, Hope’s Closet offers support groups and training for foster parents, a birthday club, school backpacks and holiday celebrations for children as well as activities for the entire family.

“Each one of those services are things that help build intentional relationships and rebuild families,” Coleman explains. “We are offering a relational community. It’s not just the children who feel like this is a safe place, but also the foster parents. If someone is struggling they can feel comfortable and confident that they are in an environment where others understand and are there to support them.”

Children have their first opportunity to shop at Hope’s Closet when they are placed in a home, and they are given additional opportunities to shop once in the spring and once in the fall as well as any time they experience a size change. They service children from birth until age 18. 

Hope’s Closet has an opportunity to interact with and impact families at least once each month if not more. Foster parents, who are required to participate in continuing education, can visit the boutique for their required training, during which dinner and childcare are provided. Parents are also invited to participate in Foster Mom or Dad Night Out, where they can have a much-needed night of relaxation and support. In addition to these services, families are invited to a closed Facebook group for continued communication and celebration.

Coleman says the reward in managing Hope’s Closet is seeing the community transformation that takes place. Coleman has seen volunteers, with no prior exposure to foster care, become foster parents as a result of their time with the organization.

“It allows them to meet the children as children, and not foster children,” Coleman states. “They just need caring people from our community to step forward and say, ‘Yes.’ These kids don’t have to be scary. There’s always a way for people in our community to support them.” 

Hope’s Closet is located at 322 Dayton Street in Hamilton. There are multiple ways to get involved, including donating kids’ clothing, helping with childcare, sorting clothes and supplies, planning events or having your group or class pack bags. Learn more online. Hopes-Closet.net