Women Giving Back
Helping women and children in crisis
Supporting women and children in crisis by providing quality clothing at no cost
Something as simple as choosing an outfit can be key to building self-esteem and lead to long-term individual success. Unfortunately, millions of women around the world lack access to the basic necessity to perform that — clothing.
In 2007, when Terri Stagi and her female peers at HomeAid Northern Virginia were seeking a way to give back to their community, it shocked them that 1 in 5 women in their area live below the poverty line and every local shelter struggled to keep their closets full for them. Whether escaping domestic abuse, coming out of incarceration, or falling on hard times, women and children in crisis were in need of apparel.
As business women, mothers, and friends, they did not hesitate to collect quality suits, shirts, shoes, and more, beginning with items from their own closet. Eventually, their efforts grew from one successful clothing drive to filling an entire warehouse space, which currently operates as a drop-off location, sorting station, and impressive storefront.
ORG In Action Snapshot: Women Giving Back
Throughout the year, Women Giving Back puts on a wide range of seasonal and reoccurring programming for families. This programming includes their Santa’s Workshop, Prom Boutique, Snack Packs To Go, which are easy-to-prepare food bags distributed to clients, and a Halloween costume drive every October.
Women Giving Back(WGB) now serves more than 24,000 women and children every year, providing quality clothing at no cost. The organization works with over 1,300 referral partners, including state family services, ministries, schools, and housing assistance to identify the specific needs of each individual, find a time for clients to shop at their private storefront, and provide a dignified checkout process. During their appointment, women can browse an extensive clothing selection in a colorful, safe space and utilize a free childcare service so the experience is both possible and enjoyable.
Throughout the year, WGB puts on a wide range of seasonal and reoccurring programming for families. During the holidays, their annual Santa’s Workshop distributes over 6,000 toys and a back-to-school program provides school supplies and fresh clothing so students can focus on their education, instead of worrying about their wardrobe. Other highlights include the Prom Boutique, Snack Packs To Go, which are easy-to-prepare food bags distributed to clients, and a Halloween costume drive every October.
During Covid-19, Executive Director Nicole Morris, launched their first ever Diaper Pantry to address the diaper gap, or amount of diapers a struggling family is short of each month. “One in three families do not have enough diapers and it’s a basic health need — you can’t imagine the relief and difference it provided, especially in the pandemic.” Morris noted.
Women Giving Back: Volunteers
Volunteers are the heart of Women Giving Back. With the help of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of corporate groups they are able to provide for the women and children they serve.
Since the Pantry launched, Women Giving Back has distributed over one million diapers. They currently partner with the Greater DC Diaper Bank in an effort to eliminate the gap and set up a system for those in need of diaper assistance to easily apply.
Women Giving Back’s small staff of six people has built a huge and active community of support. This community comprises nearly 2,400 dedicated volunteers ranging from sports teams to corporations, from long-time volunteer leaders to new donors, who learned about their work through their social media.
LaRonda Peterson, a Title I school principal who sees families benefit firsthand from WGB services, volunteers through her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which celebrated its 115th year anniversary with a day of service. “Volunteering together, as women, for women, at a place that holds up those in their most vulnerable times is something that bonds us as sisters forever,” she remarked.
Opportunities to get involved expand beyond the DC metropolitan area. The Women of ManTech, a corporate group that has been volunteering for over two years, puts together donation drives across the country and provides remote employees ways to fundraise or give directly at www.womengivingback.com/donate. Julie Anna Barker, their Chief Human Resources Officer, emphasized, “Their work gives us the chance to come together with a clear purpose behind a mission that hits home.”
As Women Giving Back continues to expand their services, they look forward to finding a forever home in a space that will accommodate the evolving needs of the community. “We will not stop supporting women and finding ways to meet their needs, answer their calls, and provide them with comfort, confidence, and a closet full of clothes,” asserts Program Director, Erica Parraga.