Today, we’re heading out of office to show you two of our most recent Charity Champion recipients. Both are located right here in Waco, serving women and children from our area. Two miles north of our 8th Street location, on the historic Paul Quinn Campus, a closet is changing lives.
Like most closets, it holds a collection of handbags, jewelry, shoes, dresses, skirts, and blazers. But this closet, assembled from community donations, represents a lot more to the women who step inside. Esther’s Closet is a hand up to women around the Waco area looking to advance their careers and their lives.
The program offers professional clothes at no charge to women who have upcoming interviews or have found employment. Their collection of clothes features stylish, size-inclusive clothing that can make all the difference when it comes to nailing a first impression. Rachel Pate, a former Esther’s Closet customer, and now the manager, says that the closet serves a variety of women: some may be married, some may have children, some may be supporting extended family. They come from different ethnicities and backgrounds, but all of them have a drive to succeed. These “diamonds in the rough” simply lack the wardrobe and guidance they need to feel confident and look the part in their next interview or job.
Hear Rachel Pate’s recent interview with Julie Hays on KWTX News 10: Esther’s Closet was voted one of this year’s Charity Champions by TFNB employees because it so clearly fits our mission of “helping those who help others.” Esther’s Closet gives women the tools they need to be successful all on their own. The drive to succeed that these women have, Rachel says, is more evident every year.
Some customers have gone on to run for school board positions or opened new businesses, or simply flourished in their new jobs.
In less than five years, Esther’s Closet has made a significant impact. Since it began, the program has:
- Served over 701 clients
- Provided over 2,300 professional outfits
- Styled over 247 interview suitings
But they’re not stopping there. Rachel Pate says the organization is now working to provide training and professional development courses for their clients, too. Certification programs, in industries such as hospitality or light manufacturing, will give these women a competitive edge in the workforce and help them arrive prepared and confident for their next position.
Hear from an Esther’s Closet customer on why this program didn’t just provide a new set of clothes, but touched her heart: We hope with the publicity Esther’s Closet receives through our Charity Champions program, they’ll be able to reach more donors and volunteers in the community to expand their program and better connect with the women who need their services most.
As part of their Charity Champion benefits, Esther’s Closet was recently featured in an interview with John Morris at a Baylor football game. During the interview, Rachel said: “It has been a wonderful journey with Esther’s Closet – with the clients, with the program growing, for us to have an opportunity to be recognized as a charity champion, we are so excited because we feel like this is going to take our program — and our clients — to the next level.”
Looking ahead, Esther’s Closet hopes to secure enough donations to add two dedicated staff members to better serve their growing customer base and achieve more than what can be done through volunteer hours alone.
A few blocks off Austin Avenue, a mile from our downtown Waco location, Ron Kimbell and his team are hard at work.
Just this month, they will support over 600 children and their families. The children who meet with Ron’s team at Klaras Center for Families (KCF) face serious challenges: some suffer from depression, severe anxiety, or mood disorders, while others are in the juvenile justice program or dealing with the emotional or behavioral effects of trauma.
KCF is the outpatient community mental health safety net for not just McLennan County, but Bosque, Hill, Falls, Limestone, and Freestone counties, too. Families come to KCF for support, resources, guidance, and understanding during some of their hardest or scariest moments. KCF is always on the move: case managers are out in the field daily, visiting with kids in schools, juvenile detention centers, or in the home.
But even with their community outreach, the organization’s building in downtown Waco is still always bustling. Four to five days a week, it supports a child psychiatric clinic. Children meet with their counselors and case workers throughout the day. Parents and guardians find support and advice from “family partners” who know what they’re going through.
Serving children as young as three, as well as adolescents and young adults, the team at Klaras provides case management, counseling, psychotherapy, skills training, psychiatric services, and family partner services through a holistic approach. When there is a need, KCF meets it; no one is turned away because of an inability to pay.
Hear why Klaras Center for Families is a charity worth supporting. Randy Lane, host of the Charity Champions podcast, sat down with KCF director Ron Kimbell in a recent episode:
Just a few years ago, the KCF team supported around 220 children every month. But the team of case workers and mental health professionals realized that the need in Central Texas was much, much greater.
The only problem? Like so many non-profit organizations, KCF operated on a shoestring budget. To secure more funding to expand their services, the team tapped as many resources as possible, often seeking out new funding opportunities at the local, state, and even national level.
Today, thanks to their dedication to their mission, they support around 650 children and their families. The team is passionate about some of its newest programs that were created to fill the gaps KCF saw in its work across the six Central Texas counties:
The Youth Crisis Respite House
This facility on a sprawling 6 acres offers a safe place for children to stay to avoid a more serious, traumatizing, and costly hospitalization that often requires a trip to Austin or Houston.
A short-term stay provides children with a reminder of critical coping skills and also offers homeless youth shelter and food while KCF connects them to a more permanent housing situation.
Transition Age Youth Program
Traditionally, children would age out of KCF’s program at 18. Yet, time and time again, Ron and his team saw how important continued resources and support were at this critical stage of development in an adolescent’s life. The “TAY” program extends services to those youth transitioning to college or the workforce, and guides those who need help securing housing and mental health support into adulthood. Thank you to Rachel Pate and Ron Kimbell for sharing their stories.
To stay up to date on the latest Charity Champions news and to learn more about our additional Champions, visit www.charitychampions.org or follow us on social media.