Giving Tuesday 2023 Letter to the Community

Dear Friends,

We have a very urgent need this Giving Tuesday.

In thirteen short months, My Sister’s Closet of Monroe County may be forced to close our doors, and the critical services we provide will end.

On December 31, 2024, our current lease will end due to the proposed expansion of the Monroe Convention Center. This will displace My Sister’s Closet (MSC).

*** We currently do NOT have enough money to relocate. ***

We need to raise at least $750,000 to secure a space large enough for client programming and a resale boutique to help fund our mission.

For the past 25 years, MSC’s team of advocates and mentors have provided vital, encompassing services to the most vulnerable in our community. Since 1998, thousands have used these unique personalized services to transform their lives from homelessness, domestic violence, and extreme poverty to financial self-sufficiency.

After the devastating burglary in October, several former clients stopped by to express their support. One very emotionally stated, “My Sister’s Closet made an enormous difference in getting me a stable job and changing my life. If this place closes, it’ll be a big loss to everyone, especially women like me.”

Please help by making a one-time gift or starting a monthly donation, via the link below, to keep our life-changing services available to all the courageous, remarkable women who need them.

To donate:

Warmest thanks for all the support you have given My Sister’s Closet and the women we serve. Without you, none of the work we do would be possible.

Sandy Keller

Founder & Executive Director, My Sister’s Closet of Monroe County, Inc.

Please read about how MSC’s services made a real difference in the life of one local woman and her family.

In 2021, I cautiously took a step to reclaim my life. For years, I was lost in the clutches of depression, trauma, and PTSD after years in a toxic relationship. I had lost hope, given up on my dreams, and daily questioned humanity’s reason for existence, and I could barely function as a person, let alone as a mom. I was so lethargic and fatigued that I had to sleep all night, then again for the few hours, my 3 children were in school, just so that I had enough energy to be present when they returned home. I had no energy for cooking, cleaning, shopping, or any outside interests or friends. I was just barely surviving and holding on by a thread – the one thing that kept me anchored to this life was my children.

After reaching my lowest point in 2020, I began receiving treatment for a thyroid disorder and the after-effects of the trauma I had experienced. As I began to crawl out of the dark hole that had enveloped me for years, I started looking for jobs. I was very worried about how I could manage working as a single mother of three with little support. Although I had an impressive work history, which included professional positions at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, the United Nations – Ghana, and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, I was only a shell of my former self. I needed guidance and support to find a job, so I reached out to Voc-Rehab and was eventually directed to My Sister’s Closet.

I nervously walked through the doors of My Sister’s Closet, a broken woman, with a voucher in hand. I expected to receive a couple of outfits to wear on upcoming job interviews, the first scheduled for the very next day. Like most of MSC’s clients, I received much, much more than job interview attire.

In my first appointment, multiple women took part in helping me find just the right clothes that flattered my body, including shoes, jewelry, and accessories to complete a professional look. All of these women offered sincere compliments and each one made me feel more encouraged. I was shocked at the huge shopping bag full of products they gave me, including hygiene items that were too expensive on my own. They introduced me to an image consultant, explained how to make the most of a 30-second elevator speech as a job search tool, and taught me how to create effective STAR statements to use during my interviews.

Before leaving, the Executive Director, Sandy, asked to see my resume, of which I was already very proud. I assured her, “My resume is beautiful, and it doesn’t need further revision.” But this woman is persistent, and she insisted. She told me that My Sister’s Closet had a very large network with many employers, and, with my permission, she would share my resume with those who may be a good fit for me.

After just 3 days, around 6 pm on a Saturday, I received a call from Sandy. She told me that she was in her office with one of MSC’s long-time supporters, who worked at Crane Naval Warfare Center. She asked if we had any good candidates for positions in her department. Sandy immediately recommended me and over the next several months, I had multiple interviews and was ultimately hired.

During that time, an MSC advocate reached out to me several times a week to touch base. They made job search suggestions, offered interviewing tips, and even shared life skills applicable outside of the workplace. All their time and concern made me feel like a very important client.

Having developed a mentoring relationship with Sandy, I offered to volunteer at MSC. Shortly after, I was asked to join as a part-time employee and was eventually promoted to Operations Director. It turned out to be exactly what I had been hoping for – a meaningful job with flexibility and in an environment that allowed me to still be very available to my children.

As I was returning to my former self, my passion for helping others returned. I began to set goals again, reclaiming dreams that had seemed so out of reach just months before. I soon learned that I was not the only “special” client – MSC mentors volunteer countless hours encouraging, training, and advocating for all their clients.

How has my life changed? My children and I have a reliable vehicle now. We no longer need to visit food pantries two or three times each week. I have been able to provide so much more for my kids – my daughter takes dance lessons and my sons have been in sports. My children have seen me transform before their eyes. My journey has helped all of us to become more confident and hopeful about our future, and our own lives.

The MSC team shows sincere compassion, care, concern, and personalized attention – they change lives. When women come in for the first time, many walk in as I did – broken, disheartened, furtive, and untrusting. With each piece of clothing, each compliment offered, each job skill shared, another piece of her is restored. They leave with a renewed determination and greater confidence to follow their dreams. This was my own experience, and I see other women do the same each week.

The ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi demonstrates that a broken bowl doesn’t have to be discarded. An artist uses glue and gold dust to put the pieces back together, making it even more remarkable than before. This philosophy emphasizes that it is not flawlessness that makes something beautiful. The unique and now-golden scars are something to be celebrated, not hidden. Just like a Kintsugi bowl, women are restored at My Sister’s Closet. We emerge as women reborn. The scars from all of the heartache, pain, abuse, and trauma now glisten, encouraging others to embrace their imperfections and recognize their beauty.

A Thanksgiving Message From Our Founder

This Thanksgiving, we are sincerely grateful to this community that has given so much support to My Sister’s Closet and the women we serve. It is because of the monetary gifts, clothing, hygiene products, and training tools that allow us to serve our mission. We are especially grateful to everyone who took the time to send a note or stop by after our recent break-in, and those who sent a monetary gift to support the Relocation Fund. Many supporters and clients have told us what it means to them that we are working with the homeless or anybody who is struggling to get on their feet.

One of our shoppers was emotionally moved when they witnessed us helping a client. They later shared, “It was a hot day and a thirty-something-year-old came in sweaty, hot, and dirty from living in a tent outside. She had no bathroom or shower. I don’t know what her story was, but she had a job interview in a few hours, and there was no way someone was going to hire her the way she looked when she came in. She needed SO MUCH HELP. I thought, ‘This is impossible’. How could they possibly help this woman in the state she’s in? But here she was with no option, but to trust strangers, just hoping they wouldn’t judge her. What happened next was a demonstration of love and compassion, that I’ve told everyone about. It might seem like a simple thing, but I thought it was brilliant. You ladies gave this young lady something called ‘A Spa in a Box’, a container with several items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, baby wipes, deodorant, and new underwear in her size. She was also given water and something to eat. When she came out, she was so happy, grateful, and ready to try on clothes. I will never forget the human dignity I witnessed in that moment. What a miracle! What My Sister’s Closet does is so important, and it was important for me to be here that day and feel like I was part of it.”

Last week, a very sweet woman came in after getting hired and said, “My Sister’s Closet treated me like royalty when I came in here with my voucher. It wasn’t just the clothes you gave me; it was how you sincerely took an interest in me personally and showed me respect. I am still homeless, but I like myself a lot more after coming in here. Everyone in here just wraps their arms around you, and I will always support this place! You always recognize me when I come in and make me feel important. Might sound silly, but people like me really need that. I hope this place gets some money to stay in business for women like me. If this place closes, it’ll be a big loss to everybody.”

Another client said, “My Sister’s Closet means so much to me. I came in, unhappy where I was already working, hoping to talk to someone. I needed help finding something different than what I was experiencing at the place I had worked at for five years. I wasn’t technically a client, but I was hoping someone there could teach me how to advocate for myself. My employer wasn’t giving me a raise or time off, and I was the only woman working in a large office. I had been there longer and was working more hours than the men, most who I trained, and not getting paid the same as the men for the same job. I felt taken advantage of, unhappy, and depressed. A mentor at MSC helped me learn how to advocate for myself and how to talk to my employer respectfully and calmly about getting a raise or the time off I needed. It made me feel stronger and more confident, and I like where I work much more now because of it. I will always support My Sister’s Closet!”

On behalf of myself, and all the volunteers and staff members on our team, thank you sincerely for everything you do to support the women we serve at My Sister’s Closet. We couldn’t do this important work without you.


Sandy Keller

Founder and Executive Director

Client Stories During the Pandemic

Newsletter - Dec 2020 p1
Newsletter - Dec 2020 p2