STERLING, Va. — Losing a job or leaving an abusive relationship can put women in a precarious emotional and financial position. An area with a high cost of living can make it difficult to sustain a savings account and becoming unemployed will deplete it quickly. When women find the courage to leave their abuser, they're often only able to escape with the clothes on their backs. These women need a support system to gather resources and get back on their feet.
Women Giving Back was started in 2007 by sales and marketing women in the homebuilding industry. They recognized that women and their children living in shelters had limited access to free quality clothing. The warehouse space in Sterling, Virginia holds brand-name quality clothes and toiletries for those in need.
"We operate solely through referrals from case managers and social workers," says Nicole Morris, Executive Director of WGB. "We partner with close to 200 programs in the area. A lot of them are shelters, domestic violence programs, human trafficking programs. And we know that every woman coming to us is in need."
"I was a government contractor and got laid off," says Raven Bowden, a former client and current volunteer of WGB. "We became homeless during that time. Bowden is grateful for the support WGB provided her and her family. "It tremendously built our confidence because you want to be able to blend in. You don't want to look like your situation."
Many women find themselves in similar situations to Bowden's. "It's something we see in the financial industry. One small crisis can upend somebody's life," says Katie Knight, Community Engagement Officer of Apple Federal Credit Union. Knight along with other AFCU employees donated their time, bags of clothing, and $1000 to WGB. "These women come from all different scenarios with all different backgrounds and they deserve everything that the community can send to them."
Donations and volunteerism are vital to keeping WGB thriving. Nicole Morris and her staff provide personal service and uplifting interaction to each woman that walks in the warehouse. "A lot of times they think they're just coming to a thrift store," says Morris. "But when they leave, we see them physically stand a little taller."
This article is sponsored by Apple Federal Credit Union.