The charity organization Women Giving Back, created in the vicinity of Washington by a group of women, supplies those in need with high-quality clothing.
Women Giving Back is a charitable organization created by a group of forty women in the suburbs of Washington. Its mission is to support women and children in a crisis situation. To achieve this goal, the philanthropists have opened a real boutique, where they provide high-quality clothing and other products of well-known brands to those who are in trouble for free.
Everything here is like in an ordinary department store: clothes and shoes, jewelry and personal hygiene products, children’s toys and diapers, cosmetics and perfumes… But there are no cash registers, no sellers. Everything in the store is completely free. Women Giving Back is a charitable organization that has existed exclusively through donations for 15 years in Sterling, Virginia.
“We cooperate with three hundred different organizations. Their managers or social workers send their clients to us so that they can get the clothes they need here,” says Nicole Morris, director of Women Giving Back. — We cooperate with organizations that help victims of domestic violence; women who have just been released from prison; victims of the underground sex industry; unaccompanied immigrant children who are in temporary detention centers. We serve different demographic groups of women and children.”
Terri Stagi, who founded Women Giving Back, first started doing charity work back in the early 2000s. Then her advertising agency worked closely with a non-profit organization that built shelters for the homeless. Soon the organization invited Terry to its board of directors.
“At some point, I realized that out of 30 members of the council — all are men, with the exception of me. And I decided that we need to somehow attract women to this area,” Terry Stagi recalls. — I contacted various shelters and organizations that help the poor and asked: “Men help you with boards and bricks. How can we, women, help?” And everyone answered unequivocally: “We need clothes. We have many victims of domestic violence who run away from home without taking any things, and their children don’t even have anything to change into.” I turned to other women, and they came to my aid, as women always do. We organized a party, and as an entrance fee, we had to bring clothes. On this day, Women Giving Back was born.”
At first, we worked on the principle of a garage sale and only once a month. However, the demand for Women Giving Back services was so great that it was necessary to expand and find a permanent place.
“We organized this place to make it look like a real boutique. So that the women who come here feel like they are in an ordinary store. But everything here is completely free,” Stagi says. – There are volunteers working in the store who help customers choose clothes. We have tried to create a favorable and warm atmosphere here, so that our “customers” feel that they are worth something.”
The boutique also organizes seasonal “sales,” for example, Christmas gifts, Halloween costumes and outfits for proms, or, as it is now, a school supply.
The organization employs only 3 people, the rest – more than 4 thousand people – are volunteers. Terry Stagi says that for all the time of their existence, they have never faced the problem of a lack of clothes. Therefore, not all clothes are accepted here — only those that look like new. Each client can take up to 50 items.
“This program has helped me a lot emotionally and psychologically. She took some of the weight off my shoulders. They didn’t even count how many clothes I took,” says one of the store’s customers, Jennifer D.” It’s sad, but people often look down on other people. Everything is different here. When I come here for diapers, no one judges me for it.”
At the same time, Women Giving Back makes sure that those who really need it receive help. You can’t just go to the store from the street — you need a special referral from an organization that helps the poor.
“This organization helps to cope with many problems that people faced during the pandemic. This is especially true for diapers. For many, this is an expensive pleasure. Women Giving Back not only helps, they also give smiles to people,” says Hayes Parker-Kepchar, manager of the homeless shelter.
Jen Haas is a former customer of the store, a mother of three children who faced domestic violence. Now she is a representative of the organization and an activist who advocates for women’s rights.
“I speak at various events, I am often invited to schools, I collect donations,” Jenn Hass says. “I also try to help other women who have been victims of domestic or sexual violence, just to reach out to someone who is in a similar situation, because these people often feel isolated and lonely. I know this from my own experience.”