Bill and Peggy Bailey have been volunteering at The Cottage Shop for 20 years – ever since Peggy saw a call in the paper for help the week after Bill retired. The Cottage Shop was a perfect fit for the pair, who sought a way to give back and stay involved in their community.
Bill & Peggy Bailey
Every Wednesday they’re among a loyal group of long-term volunteers who help our shop staff process incoming merchandise, and they have no intention of retiring from their service anytime soon. “It’s fun every week,” they say. “We’re just family, you know… The name stands for itself: ‘The Women’s Home.’ They’re good for the women and good for us.”
Maureen Cantu has been volunteering in The Cottage Shop for a little over a year after being a loyal patron of the resale shop. As an English teacher, she appreciates how The Cottage Shop gives people the opportunity to purchase things they might not afford otherwise.
Cheri Barton & Maureen Cantu
She is also impressed by how those residents who train in the shop greet shoppers and remember regular visitors. About volunteering at the shop, Maureen says, “They made it easy for me…they’re flexible and accepting of what I do have to give.” Like Heather, Maureen finds volunteering at The Women’s Home to be a welcome change of pace from her work. Interacting with The Cottage Shop staff means she is continually learning new things about fashion.
Maureen has been a Brown Bag session speaker, too, giving a presentation about the positive impact that journaling had on the language skills and well-being of unaccompanied minors learning English; she then did vision boards with our residents. “I get more out of it than I give,” she says. “I feel uplifted after being here, and volunteering in the shop is like opening a treasure box every day.”
Katy Boatman got involved with The Women’s Home after attending one of the first mixers our Young Professionals held. “I had tried several nonprofits over the years, but never really found a good fit,” she says, wanting “an organization with a mission that spoke to me and one where I could really help. I was then invited to a happy hour by a woman I know who is involved with The Women’s Home Young Professionals (WHYP). I really liked the mission of The Home, plus I liked that the WHYP was a relatively new organization. I felt like they were still looking for fresh ideas, which gives you an opportunity to sink your teeth in.”
Katy appreciates that our programs provide long-term services and support to our residents, fostering opportunities for them to grow and be involved in their community through joint volunteer events with our Young Professionals. “I like that the WHYP is not just about raising money,” she adds. “We also have fun together and do a lot of outreach to get recognition for The Women’s Home. For example, we called ‘Lean In’ a friendraiser, not a fundraiser. I also really like that we get to interact with the residents, like throwing them a Christmas party and volunteering alongside them.”
Joan Glover has been volunteering with The Women’s Home for nearly a year. She and her husband moved back to Houston in 2014, and she discovered The Home when she stopped by Shop. Taste. Empower. earlier this year. “I was impressed by the energy and overall commitment,” she says. “The Women’s Home strikes very close to my heart, not only because of the ladies involved, but also because of the excellent work that is done to intervene and provide alternatives. I continue to be impressed.”
She helps with the Computer Literacy 101 class, as well as with the residents’ book club, where she discovered a new side to our residents. “The members of our book club were discussing which books to read,” she says. “One participant suddenly said, ‘What about “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka?’ I learned never, ever to underestimate the range, depth and abilities of the ladies at The Women’s Home.”
Volunteering for Joan is a grounding exercise: “I get to meet very interesting people, each of whom has had many, many challenges. But they are truly determined to make changes and find a new path that will improve their lives and the lives of their families.”
Mary Gracely became involved with The Women’s Home spiritual programs, The Courage to Search and The Search Continues, after doing an invocation at one of The Home’s fundraising events. An interfaith minister, Mary has been volunteering with The Home for a little over eight months and enjoys being invested in the Houston community in a way that supports our residents’ spiritual growth.
She began volunteering at The Women’s Home thinking she would be sharing knowledge with our residents, but discovered she learned just as much from them. “When I thought I knew it all, I learned more about my sisters,” she says. “I expected to be at The Women’s Home in service and gained so much from the experience.”
The West U Rotary Club has been volunteering with The Women’s Home for over 10 years. They’ve held clothing drives, volunteered in The Cottage Shop, hosted an awards banquet for our residents, and furnished and decorated two of our apartments at Jane Cizik Garden Place, our supportive housing community in Spring Branch.
West U Rotary Club
The Rotary Club has also held interviewing skills workshops and mock interview sessions for our treatment and transitional residents, helping them with ways to present themselves professionally in their employment search. Several residents have even found work through the mock interviews with Rotary Club members.
Members continue to volunteer with The Home “because of the immediate gratification that they get from having a positive impact on the women,” a Rotary Club representative says. “As a group, we are happy to see the growth of The Women’s Home and are committed to continued participation in whatever way we can best contribute.”