Blessings Boutique helps local families
At the newly launched Blessings Boutique, housed within The Salvation Army Homewood–Brushton Worship and Service Center, a sign greets parents and children in need: “Have Big Dreams: You Will Grow Into Them.”
Providing children, ages 5 to 18, with brand new clothing, the boutique offers jackets, pants, shirts, toiletries, and more, all at no cost to residents, while aiming to go well beyond meeting their basic needs.
“This sign here, ‘Have Big Dreams,’ gives us the impetus for what this is all about,” said Major Ana Frazer, commanding officer at the Homewood–Brushton Corps. “Children need to feel valued, and oftentimes, it’s the little things that make people feel valued. For someone to give them something that is new and not used, adds value to them and allows them to have those dreams outside of what is ‘normal’ for them here in this community.”
Homewood–Brushton is a one–square–mile neighborhood near Pittsburgh in Allegheny County. Once a vibrant community, it is now challenged with a vicious cycle of poverty, isolation, and disinvestment. The median household income in Homewood is $19,642 compared to $40,715 in the city of Pittsburgh.
Poverty affects the most basic needs of children, especially clean clothing and appropriate fitting apparel for all seasons. The Salvation Army’s Blessing Boutique has a goal: to uplift the self–esteem and self–worth of children living in the neighborhood while supporting local families in need. Appropriate clothing is needed to help a child’s self–confidence at school, to gain eventual employment, and to maintain healthy hygiene.
Fitting into something new
Major Jodi Lloyd, program secretary at The Salvation Army Western Pa., Division, says, “Young people these days, especially, are always feeling competition to keep up and have a desire to fit in; wearing something new is about helping them feel comfortable and confident so that they feel like they can do anything.”
Erin Perry, hired as a caseworker in January 2021, now oversees Blessings Boutique under Major Frazer’s leadership. She knows that having the opportunity to wear new clothes will go a long way for local children.
“It’s really important to feel good about yourself,” Erin said. “You want to feel good and look good like other kids do, and this provides the families with something new and to look forward to better things in the future.”
The Blessings Boutique started as an idea that began with former Corps Officer Lieutenant Peranda Fils–Aime, and then blossomed into something even bigger with the help of major donors. Because of the donors, the space has brand new flooring, shelving, and decorations that create a retail feel in the boutique.
“When people come in, we really want them to have the experience of shopping, choosing something they like, and something that will fit them well,” Major Lloyd said. “In addition to the impact on the child—what a beautiful gift for a mom. A mom brings their child here and they are able to give them an experience that hopefully makes them feel valued. Our hope is that this will impact more than just the child.”
by Stephanie Rex
Director of marketing and public relations in the Western Pa., Division
To donate new items for the Blessings Boutique, please call 412–242–1434 or click here to donate a registered gift online.
Donations can also be made at www.salvationarmywpa.org/blessingsboutique.