By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — For nearly 30 years, Gladys Goban and Mary Flaherty have donated their time to helping others through Sacred Heart Cathedral’s free clothing center. The center reopened in a new location Sept. 30, to the delight of volunteers and those who patronize the center.
Pat Keys, a member of the Sacred Heart Social Justice and Peace Commission, has headed up renovation at 415 E. 10th St., across the street from the cathedral. The parish has owned the property for years and it had sat vacant.
Throughout the summer volunteers from the parish, other congregations and the community have spent time working on the house – now called Clare’s Closet and Hospitality House.
Volunteers greet patrons in the living room and offer them coffee, water and homemade cookies. “This is part of the hospitality we do,” Keys said. Patrons receive two empty canvas bags that they may fill with clothing, small appliances, books and other items. Because of a shortage of jeans and shoes, patrons may have just one pair of each item.
At the check-out, volunteers transfer the items from the canvas bags to plastic bags and take down the names of the patrons. “If they only want to write their first name, that’s fine with us,” Keys said.
One regular patron thanked the four ladies volunteering Sept. 30 for reopening the clothing center and for the free items available. “I missed you,” she told the women.
Many of the patrons have been visiting the clothing center for years, said Goban. She began volunteering about 26 years ago, following in the footsteps of her mother who also volunteered at the clothing center. “She was involved in everything. The center started in the church basement and eventually moved to the Manor (old convent).”
Flaherty began volunteering in the late 1970s and did so until she went to work as a nurse. When she retired, she returned to the center. “You get to know the people as they come back year after year. I like it and plan to stick with it.”
Plans call for the center to expand in the future. The main level will have one room dedicated to children’s clothing and adult clothing will move to another area. The basement has a workroom where volunteers sort items two days a week. A laundry room and an unfinished bathroom are undergoing renovation. Volunteers anticipate laundry and shower rooms will be open to patrons beginning in November, Keys said. Women will use those facilities one day and men the next day.
“An anonymous group has come forth to make this happen,” she said of the laundry and shower rooms. Financial donations will help pay for utilities.
Supporting the clothing center are the cathedral and PUNCH, a group of seven churches south of Locust Street. Keys has distributed fliers at meal sites, shelters and in the cathedral neighborhood to let people know the center has reopened. She also operates a “suitcase ministry” through the center in which she collects suitcases, backpacks and other large bags to bring to shelters for the homeless.
Support Clare’s Closet and Hospitality House
Clare’s Closet and Hospitality House needs volunteers and donated items of clothing (children, teens, adult) or small appliances.
Donations may be dropped off Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at 415 E. 10th St., Davenport.
Volunteers are needed to sort items those days and to help patrons during regular center hours on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Pat Keys at (563) 424-0593 or (563) 340-6532.