If we come to this store in the suburbs of Virginia, it looks like an ordinary retail store. On the shelves are clothes, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, children’s toys, baby diapers and many others. What is missing is a cash register or a merchant or an officer who serves payments. Everything in this store is free. This is all thanks to “Women Giving Back,” an NGO in Sterling, in the state of Virginia, which for the past 15 years has been helping American women and girls.
“We have a program to deal with domestic violence or domestic violence. We serve women out of prison, victims of human trafficking and sex trafficking, unaccompanied minors who are in detention centers or have recently come to this country,” said Executive Director of “Women Giving Back,” Nicole Morris.
Terri Stagi, founder of “Women Giving Back,” started working in charity in the late 2000s. At that time his advertising agency worked with a non-profit organization that was building a shelter for the homeless. On the way, the advertising agency asked Stagi if he would be willing to become a member of their board of directors, who were all men at the time.
“And we decided that we were supposed to find a way to get women in our industry more involved. So I went out and interviewed a lot of shelters and agencies, and asked: what can we do? Men have jobs, so what can I do to empower women too? And they replied: we need clothes! So I was able to convey those needs to the women in the industry and they came to help in full force!” he explained.
At first their job was like doing a sale of goods in the car garage, which was done every month without stopping. But when the demand grew and they had to expand their operations, they found a permanent building that later became the forerunner of the nonprofit organization “Women Giving Back.”
“We have set it up as a boutique. So when the women came, they felt like they were shopping, not for handouts or service instructions or help. Everything is free, they don’t have to pay anything. We have a number of volunteers who are quick to help them choose something. We help find the right clothes for them,” said Terri Stagi.
The boutique in question has everything in a typical retail store – some seasonal items, items for Halloween, beautiful dresses for school parties as well as school supplies.
The same thing was conveyed by Nicole Morris, Executive Director of Women Giving Back.
“Here are some backpacks as if they were for a child sitting in an elementary school bank. Volunteers have filled the backpacks with school supplies for children who want to go back to school,” he said.
There were only three people and more than 4,000 aid workers helping. Each customer can choose 50 items.
“This program really helped me, emotionally and mentally. This program reduces my burden,” said Jennifer.
Jenn Haas, a former client and mother with three children who experienced acts of violence. She is now a “Women Giving Back” Ambassador and an activist.
“I spoke at a number of local high schools. I also speak at charitable organizations. I donate whatever is in my house,” he said.
Currently “Women Giving Back” is looking for a new building for their boutique. The current one is too small. Unfortunately, when the waves of donations don’t stop, the number of women and girls who come asking for help has never decreased. [em/pr]