Anney Ardiel saw an opportunity.
She saw teenage girls aging out of foster care, women leaving abusive relationships, teen mothers and at-risk women left with next to nothing. Ardiel also saw seniors downsizing their homes and their belongings, which sparked an idea marrying those needing to give with those in need.
Anney’s Closet was born.
“When (girls) hit a certain age support is discontinued,” Ardiel said. “We found a fit that made sense for everyone.”
With the backing of Soroptimist International Victoria/West Shore, a group of women focused on enhancing the lives of women in need locally and internationally, Ardiel helped found the program.
As Anney’s Closet celebrates a year of facilitating community donations of household items, and passing them on to women living through challenging times, she said it’s been an empowering experience for everyone involved.
“(Seniors) are always losing. They have lost their hearing, they’ve lost their vision, they’ve lost their drivers license and now they are losing their home and a lot of their things. (Anney’s Closet) provides them an opportunity to give something, rather than be a victim that is losing, to be someone who is giving to the community.
Recipients are referred through advocate partners who include the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Boys and Girls Club and the Victoria Women’s Transition House among others. Clients come to the U-Lock Mini Storage in Colwood, where the program stores donations to their “free store” in four donated lockers. The goods are shipped to U-Lock free by Foster’s Moving & Storage.
Everything from cutlery, furniture and lanterns to books and kitchenware is laid out in the lockers. Recipients take whatever, and however many household items they need. Soroptimist president Jennilee Brack said this first year has been memorable.
“It is a feel-good project that gives back on many levels,” she said. “We are able to help multiple demographics and the reach is quite large. We are dedicated to helping women and giving back to local girls and women in the community.”
The one-year anniversary, being celebrated with a barbecue from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (July 19) at U-Lock Mini Storage, 1621 Island Hwy., will highlight what Ardiel called a story of community.
“The girls who come to the Closet are also giving up a lot to leave the home that they have been in. They have nothing,” she said. “To be able to give them the opportunity to flourish and have abundance is incredible.”
For more details visit anneyscloset.com.