Aging out of the foster care system can be scary for anyone.
Now young women on the West Shore can access a free store that provides home furnishings free-of-charge to at-risk girls.
“When some of the girls age out of foster care they leave with a small $250 stipend and are given a bachelor apartment,” said Joan Jackson, a volunteer at Anney’s Closet. “We had one girl leave care with only two paper bags (of belongings).”
The 18-year-old left the View Royal free store with a bed, bedding, tables, chair and towels.
“She kept asking if there were strings attached,” said Jackson.
Anney’s Closet caters to teen and young mothers as well as teens aging out of the foster care system.
Many get a small one-time stipend to purchase items for their home. Income from any other charity can affect that stipend, so Anney’s Closet offers items free.
Sharlene Law, an outreach team lead for the Umbrella Society, accompanied one of her clients to the free store to help furnish a new bachelor apartment.
“I was not expecting it to be as good as it is. It’s so organized,” said Law, adding she’s not aware of any other facility like it in Greater Victoria. “Normally the best we do is go to a thrift store and try to get a voucher to buy things.”
Without Anney’s Closet, Law’s client, a former homeless youth, would have been living in an apartment with just a donated microwave.
“She took home a bed, pots, pans, mugs, cups, a table and bedding. She was able to go and sleep in her bed that night,” Law said. “We live in such a disposable society I’d like to see more people donate here.”
Soroptomist International of Victoria West Shore operates the free store. The club has about 30 members and meets twice a month in Langford.
“We’ve been doing this quietly for a year, but we are ready for our official launch,” said Jackson.
It is not open to the public and clients are only connected through a social worker or social agency.
However they’ll host an open house at Westshore U-Lock, 1621 Island Highway, June 8 from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. Volunteers will be on hand to offer tours and answer questions.
For more information or to organize a donation go to www.anneyscloset.com