Physical presentation is more than how an outside person perceives another person; it can shape how we see ourselves.
Mrs. B was brought under the care of JFS Public Guardianship program a year ago – she had previously been under the care of a different public guardian. When she arrived to JFS, she was reserved and owned very few personal items. Her wardrobe only consisted of a couple of nightgown-like t-shirts with buttons down the middle that was purchased by the previous guardian. Mrs. B was primarily wheelchair bound, so the button-down nightgown t-shirts were practical.
Lisa Colegrove, LCSW and JFS Director of Care Support Services, began to visit Mrs. B and noticed she was always under a blanket. She had no pants, so her legs were always cold! Lisa went to a gently-used clothing store to purchase a pair of stretchy yoga pants and while she was there she picked out a couple of blouses and a warm pair of socks.
Lisa visited Mrs. B the next day to give her the clothes. “For the first time I saw her warm and upbeat personality,” says Lisa, “She repeated over and over, ‘How pretty!’ and ‘I love the blue because it matches my eyes.’ We had no idea she was such a girly girl. She loved bright colors, fluffy colorful socks and hair bows.” With her spirits lifted and her legs warm she began to do more activities like pottery and exercise classes.
All it took was a couple of gently-used clothing items to improve Mrs. B’s life outlook. As Lisa explains, “presenting yourself as put together provides a sense of dignity.”
Unfortunately, Mrs. B’s story is not uncommon. Many of JFS’ low-income seniors only own worn out clothes, they don’t have a coat to keep warm in the winter or a fresh change of socks and underwear. This often stimulates new cycle of problems like depression and loss of social connections.
Sandy Sisisky, JFS Board 1st Vice President, is all too familiar to stories like Mrs. B’s and knew that her friends could be the difference for JFS’ low-income seniors. In August for her birthday, she challenged her friends to purchase fresh packages of underwear, socks, and hygiene products for JFS low-income clients who would normally go without these basic necessities.
Through the generosity of Sandy and her friends, JFS established the Care Closet. It will be a resource for low-income seniors in the care of JFS who lack basic items such as fresh clothes and under garments, a warm coat, soap, or laundry detergent.
Sandy hopes this care closet will continue to be a community wide initiative. “People want to give,” explains Sandy, “sometimes they just need to know how to get started. This is the opportunity for individuals and families to get involved all year round or for teens to take their first independent step in philanthropic giving through their bar/bat mitzvah project.”
You have the power to transform a life. Take the first step and next time you’re at the store put something extra into your basket.
To directly serve our clients’ needs, the JFS Care Closet is currently in need of:
(1) New underclothes and socks for Women’s sizes S-XL, 1X, 2X and Men’s sizes S-XXL;
(2) New Pajamas for Men’s sizes S-XXL;
(3) New or like-new T-Shirts for Women’s sizes S-XL, 1X, 2X and Men’s sizes S-XXL;
(4) New or like-new knit pants and sweatpants for Women’s sizes S-XL, 2X and Men’s sizes S-XXL;
(5) Packaged toiletries such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and hand and face lotion for Women and Men.
You are the difference between seniors staying home versus expanding their horizons.
All donations can be dropped off at JFS, 6718 Patterson Avenue. To learn more, contact Penny Holleman, Senior Engagement and Volunteer Supervisor at [email protected] or 804-282-5644 ext. 244.