Good Cause of the Month: Linda's Closet

Meet the charity that's changing the lives of Monadnock Region women in need



Members of the Linda's Closet Board of Directors at the Keene Sentinel's Extraordinary Women awards, where board chair Kathleen Birch was honored.

Courtesy photo

Throughout 2017, we've been alerting you to events and causes worthy of your time and philanthropic treasure in our Good Cause of the Month series. Keep an eye out for a Good Cause every month here at NHMagazine.com, from charitable events to volunteer opportunities to nonprofits you should get to know — and, by the end of the year, your do-gooder cred will be off the charts.

For this month's Good Cause, we'd like to introduce you to Linda's Closet. The 15-year-old nonprofit bills itself as a "free clothing resource" for women of the Monadnock Region, providing no-cost duds for job interviews, proms and other occasions where appropriate clothing can be hard to afford. Read on to learn all about their work and history and to find out how you can get involved.

What They Do

Linda's Closet board member Michelle Pong frames the typical Linda's narrative through a hypothetical customer, Elizabeth. "Elizabeth is a single mother," she says. "She is unemployed and struggling to make ends meet when she finally gets the call to interview for a position that can help move her family into a more stable economic situation." But, with finances tight and the kids outgrowing their clothes every few months, her own wardrobe of hand-me-downs and worn-out jeans has nothing that's job interview-ready. In such scenarios, women like Elizabeth — even when they're qualified for the job — often wind up skipping interviews altogether for fear of looking unprofessional.

Worries over clothing may seem superficial, but those little details can make a big difference. A Harvard study has found that we form first impressions within 7 seconds of meeting a new person, and that 55% of that impression is formed from the person's appearance. A sparkling resume and killer worth ethic can only go so far if your wardrobe says you won't blend in with the office's business-casual dress code.

At Linda's Closet, a woman like Elizabeth can find the perfect gear to impress her interviewer without worrying that her shopping will mean skipping lunch for the week.

Named for and operating in honor of Linda Oliver, a career professional with the NH Department of Health and Welfare who died of ovarian cancer, the boutique, Pong says, seeks "to help women who [are] trying to set goals for themselves" — starting with the clothes in other women's own closets.

The boutique's clothes come entirely from donations from local women, and their applications extend far beyond job interviews. Shoppers can find prom dresses, mother-of-the-bride ensembles, and day-to-day office wear at Linda's Closet, as well as everyday clothing to fill emergency need. Pong explains that the local women's shelter has recently brought a number of clients to the boutique to find clothes after fleeing domestic violence without time to pack, and that even recent college grads have become an increasingly large portion of the shop's clientele, thanks to the financial strain of significant student debt.

Confidence starts on the inside, but what's on the outside can make a real impact, especially in life's big moments. "Linda's Closet is dedicated to helping women move forward in their lives," Pong says, "by providing the resources that help them look good on the outside" — to match all the good that's already within.


courtesy photo
An example of the professional wear on offer at Linda's Closet

How You Can Help

Linda's Closet is currently soliciting help from the public in several ways. First, and most visibly, you can donate clothes. The boutique is always looking for good-condition clothing in all sizes, as long as it's clean, in style, and in season (their small space prohibits them from accepting, say, shorts in December or coats in July). Just bring your donations by the boutique during opening hours.

You can also volunteer at the boutique as a fashion consultant or give monetary donations. The latter is especially valuable at the moment as the enterprise is looking to expand and find a new, larger space.

Two major annual fundraisers provide one of the boutique's biggest sources of income, and one of them is just around the corner. Sign up for the Linda's Closet 5K Run/Walk on September 16 to get a jolt of late-summer fitness and help support the work of this unique organization. Registration ranges from $10 to $20, and, the low-key fun run is the perfect opportunity to get the whole family involved in the Linda's Closet mission. You may not have a trendy pantsuit to donate, gentlemen, but if you can walk a 5K, this fundraiser is the one for you. (Keep your eyes peeled for Linda's Closet's other big event, a yard sale at Keene's TD Bank, held in June.)

Do you know of an organization or charitable event that would make a great Good Cause of the Month? Send your ideas to Assistant Editor Sarah Cahalan at scahalan@nhmagazine.com.

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