Showing posts with label Windham Clothes Closet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Windham Clothes Closet. Show all posts

Friday, March 24, 2023

Windham third grader’s fundraiser makes big difference for community

By Matt Pascarella

Windham third-grader Eva Doughty really likes helping people. When the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry visited her class, she became inspired. She wanted to help those in need have food and clothes during the cold winter. She decided to organize a fundraiser and created her own Polar Dip event at Sebago Lake on Tuesday, Jan. 24 where about 25 people attended.

Eva Doughty, left, Harper Maxfield and Troy Doughty hold
up the check from Eva's Polar Dip fundraiser from which 
she was able to donate more than $2,200 to the Windham
Food Pantry and the Windham Clothes Closet during the
Windham Town Council meeting on Tuesday, March 21.
At that event, Doughty and several other students from her neighborhood took the plunge into the icy lake waters.

Through determination and persistence, Doughty was able to raise more than $2,200 for the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry at her Polar Dip.

On Tuesday, March 21 during a Windham Town Council meeting, she presented a check to Collette Gagnon, Windham Social Services Administrative Assistant and operator of the Windham Clothes Closet, and Windham’s General Assistance Manager Rene Daniel.

“I decided to do the Polar Dip because I was always curious what it would feel like to jump into the ice-cold water in the winter,” said Doughty. “I thought it was crazy enough that people would donate to me for doing it.”

In creating the event, she distributed flyers around her neighborhood and Doughty and her family also created a flier that was posted to Facebook from which she received additional donations from her friends and family.

When the donations first started coming in, Doughty said that she felt grateful that people were helping and recalled how was happy she was raising money for a good cause.

Eva’s parents, Chris and Sara Doughty, said it was really great to know that their community was so willing to help other families and support the efforts of their daughter to help those experiencing tough times.

Her parents say that they are very proud of Eva and that she took the initiative to come up with the concept and idea for the Polar Dip and followed through to make an impact in the community. They say she is a thoughtful and generous person with a very kind heart.

All the money she raised was donated directly to the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry and will benefit Windham residents in need.

Gagnon said she gets a lot of requests for items such as milk and eggs and the money raised through the Polar Dip fundraiser will make it easier for the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry to provide these necessities as needed.

“I am totally amazed by the generosity of Eva Doughty wanting to organize this fundraiser,” she said. “She’s a wonderful citizen and a great leader. For a third grader to think of and execute a fundraiser like this makes her ahead of her years.”

Windham Town Councilor Jarrod Maxfield agrees.

“It important to recognize Eva and the other kids because they deserve it for stepping up and doing a fairly difficult thing for such a great cause,” Maxfield said. “A third grader inspired a small group to do a big thing which is an example to all of us in town of how to step up and help your community because that’s what it’s all about.”

Eva Doughty said she’s pleased that people donated to her fundraiser and helped it to become a success.

“I felt really happy that my Polar Dip could help less fortunate families have meals and clothes for the winter that they might not have had otherwise,” she said. “I want to help people the same way every year and I want to get the event bigger and bigger so I can help even more people.” <

Friday, December 20, 2019

Windham Clothes Closet: A hidden gem offering resources to many communities

The Windham Clothes Closet is located at 377 Gray Road
(Route 202) in the same building as the Windham Food Pantry.
The building sits between the Police/Fire Station and the
Windham Community Garden.
By Lorraine Glowczak

This story began as an ordinary everyday text message early Monday, December 9 from area Windham community volunteer and RSU14 Board Member, Marge Govoni. “Call me when you have a chance. I think I have a great story idea for you to write about.”

I called her. “I wonder if you might want to highlight the Windham Clothes Closet,” she began. “It seems very few people are aware of its existence and I think more people need to know about it.”

I took note of her suggestion and believed it might make a great story for our end-of-year/Christmas Windham Eagle newspaper edition. But that is when the ordinary transformed into a magical Christmas experience 24 hours later.

It was Wednesday, December 11 when another Windham area community volunteer walked into the Windham Eagle newspaper office. “George Bartlett is here to talk with you,” Time4Printing and Windham Eagle Office Manager, Tricia Griffin said to me through the speaker on the office phone. “He has a story idea you might be interested in writing.” walk downstairs to the reception area and greeted Bartlett, who is a board member of the Sebago Lakes Rotary Club and owner of Busy Bee Laundry. “I have a great story for you,” he said. “You know the Windham Resource Center, right?” he asked.

Remembering the early conversation with Govoni, I asked, “Is it the Clothes Closet you have in mind?”

Bartlett appeared surprised, hesitated and then said, “Why, yes.” as in ‘how did you know’ but quickly continued. “You do realize many people in the area are unaware that we have a Clothes Closet in town where people can get clothes and other items for free?”

The Christmas magic of the story is that Govini and Bartlett, although known to one another, were not acting in collaboration to spread the word about the Windham Clothes Closet. It was all unplanned, with each not knowing that the other shared the same message.

Bartlett explained that he had just come from the Closet. “Every three to six months, I take clothes that are left at the laundromat and deliver them to the Windham Clothes Closet. And some of the clothes are really nice. But thing is, very few people know about this small-town gem.” Bartlett does his best to reach out to his customers, but often – there is no contact information and he eventually runs out of space to save clothing left behind.

With Christmas spirit in mind and intent on spreading the joy Govoni and Bartlett instigated, I visited the Windham Clothes Closet last Thursday and spoke to closet volunteer, Pat Vigue.

She has volunteered at the Closet for approximately 12 years and eagerly welcomed me to the downstairs store, located in the same building as the Windham Food Pantry, 377 Gray Road. It was filled to the brim, but very neatly organized with not only infant, children and adult clothing but also shoes, blankets, afghans, coats, curtains, books, sheets, decorative pillows and much more.

While giving me a tour, I asked Vigue why she thought many people were unaware of the Windham Clothes Closet. “There are potentially many reasons,” she began, “But a couple of major explanations might be that it is not very well advertised – but worse yet - people are embarrassed to come in. Also, the hours are not necessarily conducive for working parents.”  

Currently, the closet hours are every Monday and Tuesday (except holidays) from 10 a.m. to noon. Govoni, who is also on the Human Advisory Committee appointed by the Town Council stated that there was an attempt a couple of years ago to add hours, accommodating those who work on Monday and Tuesday. “For a while, we opened one Saturday a month and one evening during the week, but no one visited during those hours. However,” Govoni continued. “If there were requests to expand hours today – we would definitely consider and accommodate as much as possible.”

Rene Daniels, the town’s General Assistance Coordinator concurred. “We will do our best to accommodate the needs of those who require clothes, mittens, coats, shoes and other important necessities.”

Daniels also stated that both the Windham Food Pantry and the Clothes Closet are hidden gems and realized that concept even more during the construction of the new maintenance building when the trash/recycling containers were moved to the Windham Resource Center’s Parking lot.

“I was amazed when the receptacles were relocated to our parking lot. I don’t know how many people told us they didn’t know the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet existed. Having the trash bins moved to our location during the construction was probably the best advertisement we received.”

The Windham Clothes Closet, which is visited by 100 people per month, is available for everyone, not only those who live in Windham. “We also provide free clothing for the other surrounding towns,” Vigue said. “This includes Westbrook, Gray, Gorham, Raymond, Standish, and other towns that touch the boundary of Windham.”

Vigue also said that the clothes are free and there are no questions asked regarding financial status. “We do ask that people sign in just so we can get a count of who is using our services, but that is it.”

Although the clothes and other items are free for the taking, it is requested that an individual take on an as needed basis, remembering there are others who have needs as well.

For those who may be hesitant about visiting the Windham Clothes Closet, both Vigue and Govoni offer words of encouragement. “This is not necessarily a place for those who are in dire need,” Govoni said. “The clothes closet is useful for those in temporary and extenuating circumstances such as changing jobs. Using the closet should not negatively reflect on any one individual.”

As for the Christmas spirit, Govoni suggested that Vigue was most likely the best giving and loving individual on the planet – and thus a quiet and humble assistant to Santa. “Pat goes out of her way to help people,” she said. “Pat will take requests and accommodate those who are in need. In fact, Pat epitomizes the word ‘volunteer’. She has passion for what she does and without her dedication to at the Windham Clothes Closet, the town (and surrounding areas), possibly there would not be this resource available.”

Vigue’s response is humble. “We also have another dedicated volunteer. Her name is Suzanne and she should be honored, too.”

The Windham Clothes Closet is an example of the Christmas magic in full swing and is a gift giving service to everyone - the whole year long.

For more information or for special requests, call 207-892-7192.