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Name: Cathy Hamilton
Business: San Antonio Threads
Location: San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Industry: Apparel & Accessories
Reason for starting? I served as a CASA for 5 years, advocating for teens in foster care. One of my legal cases was a teen girl and, when I witnessed how she received clothing, I knew, somehow, our community could do better. Most teens in foster care enter care with just the clothes on their back. Most community members are quick to donate clothes to younger kids in foster care. I researched different programs and even volunteered with Threads for Teens for a while.
I opened San Antonio Threads last August 2016. We serve about 42 teens every month. We are not a clothing closet, no clothing in boxes or barrels, stained or smelly items to choose from here. Everyone gets new essentials: bras, undies, boxers and socks. We are a clothing boutique with new clothing with the tickets still on, though we do have two rolling racks of gently used items in a separate area. We have volunteer stylists, Mary Kay and usually a yoga lesson after shopping for free. We operate in a donated space from Boys Town Texas.
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How do you define success? Success is making a difference and helping others who have often been forgotten about. We have been able to rally our community members by bringing awareness to this issue. Teens in foster care deserve to shop with dignity, choose new clothing and accessories, and receive the necessary hygiene essentials. Many times our teens ask to wear their new outfits and bag their street clothes. We have over 500 notes from our teens with heartfelt messages of gratitude and love. Teens leave with confidence, raised self esteem and hopeful that our community cares about them. We have been able to bring a few retailers on board and become regular donors.
Biggest success: Our biggest success has been a $2,000 donation from a local foundation. We were also just asked to speak to staff regarding our mission at Neiman Marcus!
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Our top challenge has been getting new clothing donated. I have taken classes on how to write a grant proposal and received our first grant last December. We also have started hosting fundraising events and raised $1,000 last month in a 1 hour event. We are working to hold more fundraising events and write proposals for more grants. We need computers, more volunteers and marketing development for our non-profit. We also are looking into getting a intern.
The need and demand for decent clothing in our community is huge. We are regrouping and working to continue providing this for our at-risk teens. I have seen homeless teens that shop at the boutique that have requested items such as bar soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and feminine products. Our beauty bar initially had mascara and lipstick. We have expanded our beauty bar to have the core essentials for our teens, thanks to extreme couponers.
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Who is your most important role model? My most important role model is Jane Hedgestrom, who started The Hanger in Colorado. They run a program where teens in foster care shop for free and also volunteer to earn job experience and community-service hours. The Hanger has a storefront location, and we aspire to make that our reality.
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Edited by The Story Exchange