One of Groton’s little-known gems, The Clothing Closet, where women, infants, children, and men may come to receive gently-used clothing completely free of charge has recently moved from its home at 112 McKinley Ave. to take up residence at The Open Door, 160 Main St.
Under the auspices of the Groton Assembly of God Church, 701 S. Main St., the duplex home owned by the church at 112 McKinley had served as the Groton Women’s Community Center; an all-volunteer non-profit organization, dedicated to its purpose of providing opportunities to enhance the lives of the women of Groton and their families through various services free of charge.The GWCC was initially led by its director, MaryLu Eveleigh, in the early 2000s. At that time, both sides of the duplex were used to offer open hours for free counseling for women for resume writing and interview skills, tutoring, healing from broken relationships or victims of abuse or violence, relationship and marriage building, parenting, mentoring for expectant mothers, free diapers and other items for infants, and much more.
As the center grew and expanded its offerings, it began to accept gently-used donations of clothing to have available for the women and infants it served. The generosity of the clothing donors soon overtook the needs at hand, which in turn overtook one side of the duplex with much of the clothing being stored there in plastic bins.
In August of 2013, Sandra Rivera, one of the new volunteers at the center, noticed the clothing bins during her orientation there. Rivera said, “I saw those bins of clothing and immediately felt that they had a purpose.”
Rivera pitched her idea to Eveleigh to set up regular hours once a month for the specific purpose of giving the clothes away. Permission was granted, and Rivera started out doing just that for almost a year.
In May 2014, the Center’s new director, Cheryl Rose, came on board. Realizing the greater potential for what “the clothing side” of the duplex could become for the community, Rose rallied her husband, Sam Rose, and other volunteers to transform it into what was then called “The Clothing Shoppe.”
Shelving, clothing racks, hangers, shopping bags, and all things “retail” were installed over the next few months, additional donations were incorporated into the existing inventory, and just like that, the “store” was ready to receive customers on a more regular basis.
At that time, Rose was very busy coordinating all the other services for the GWCC side of the house, so when The Clothing Shoppe officially opened in August 2014, Rivera became its coordinator and is still serving in that capacity today.
Almost immediately, the name was changed to “The Clothing Closet,” mainly because it seemed difficult for many to spell “Shoppe” the way it was intended, so it just seemed easier to simplify the name. I think the Groton “Olde” Home Days committee has a similar struggle.
In tandem with the Groton Food Pantry, The Clothing Closet (TCC) adjusted its schedule in order to be open twice a month on the second and fourth Saturdays along with the GFP. Through 2016, TCC was also open on Wednesday evenings but found its clientele was not utilizing the evening hours enough to warrant continuing them.
Fast-forward to the present where Rivera is still the coordinator, with a core of four to six regular volunteer workers, and a half a duplex home that has become too small to adequately accommodate both the clothing and those looking to enhance their wardrobes at the same time without resembling the proverbial “can of sardines” look.
Following months of planning and preparation, The Clothing Closet is now located in The Open Door on Main Street, which has been renovated and modernized to make for a pleasant atmosphere for everyone.
Free clothing is available for all sizes from infants to adults, in men’s, women’s, and children’s, and you do not need to be a Groton resident to avail yourself of this great resource.
The first official opening will be from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday, Feb. 23, and maintain those same hours every second and fourth Saturday of the month. In addition, it will also be open for some daytime hours; initially Wednesday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 noon beginning in April.
Grand openingWhile Rivera considers Feb. 23 the “soft opening,” TCC is planning a very special “Grand Opening” on Saturday, April 13. Everyone who comes to the grand opening celebration will receive a special gift and some other surprises! She said, “We’re so excited about our new location!”
For those who may wonder about the GWCC, most of those services will eventually transfer to the Joyce Crouch Benevolence Building in some manner, because the duplex on McKinley Avenue will be moved.
Groton Assembly of God has some exciting plans for that site, but you’ll need to keep your eye on this column in the weeks and months ahead to find out what those are!
Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, firstname.lastname@example.org or (607) 227-4922.
Senior Citizens clubThe Groton Senior Club will meet on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at the Groton American Legion on Main Street. Sign-ins and fellowship begin at 11:30 a.m. A dish-to-pass lunch begins at 12 p.m., with entertainment and a business meeting to follow.
Members are reminded to bring their own table service, as well as a serving utensil for their shared dish/dessert.
This lively and fun group typically meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at the American Legion. New members are always welcome, and the annual dues are just $12 for the year; due and payable at this meeting. For more information, please contact Jane Belonsoff at (315) 496-2125.
Dancing at the golf courseThe Groton Olde Home Days committee is planning a fundraising dance to be held at Stonehedges Golf Course, 549 Stevens Road, from 8 to 11 p.m. Friday, March 29, featuring music by Small Town Shade, an acoustic country pop/rock group hailing from Cortland. Cost is $5 per person, payable at the event.There will also be raffles and a pie wheel. Pie donations are being solicited now. Anyone who is willing and able to donate pies is asked to call Christine Brown Personius at (607) 898-3220 or email email@example.com.
The pork is pulledThe McLean Community Church’s famous pulled pork dinner will be served at 50 Church St. from 4:30 p.m. until the food is gone Wednesday, Feb. 20.This fabulous $8 meal includes an open-faced pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw, mac & cheese, homemade cake, and beverage. Take-out orders are also an option.
Hello Linda. I just registered, so that I can read your weekly column, plus stay in touch with Tompkins County news. I enjoyed today's column and wish that I could go to the event at Stonehedges! My husband and I will be at our summer RV campground again this year and reading your column will help me to be in the know when we get there. Thanks for continuing to keep Groton's news in print.
Dolores Hemming, Greer, South Carolina
Thank you for the kind words Delores.
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