By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — For more than 30 years Gladys Goban has volunteered for Sacred Heart Cathedral Clothing Center. She has seen people who are grateful for the free clothing and items that the center provides. And she has seen people try to take advantage of the center.
She’s been through several moves with the center, including last week’s move to 1119 LeClaire St., not far from its previous location on East 10th Street. The move was essential because of the age and rapid deterioration of the old building.
Goban first started helping at the center when it was located below the cathedral’s chapel. “It was small and had a lot of stairs.” The next move was in 1995 — to the basement of Cathedral Manor. “It was bigger, but still in a basement.” In 2011 the center moved to the 10th Street location. “It was bigger, we became more organized and we became a family,” Goban said.
Pat Keys managed the center from the time it moved to East 10th Street until earlier this year, and implemented hospitality. “She changed it all. We had training. We welcomed our visitors by offering them an area to have a drink (coffee, juice or cocoa) and grab a snack,” Goban said. “I like it here and I like associating with the people.”
Carolyn Bates serves on one of the clothing center’s steering committees. She noted that conditions in the East 10th Street location were so bad that the ceiling fell in the children’s clothing room in July. Fortunately, the building was closed that month.
When four properties and a lot came up for sale on LeClaire Street, which runs along the east side of the cathedral, Father Rich Adam, the cathedral’s pastor and rector, consulted with the parish’s finance committee. Eventually, a decision was made to purchase the properties.
Fr. Adam sought outside resources and received $75,000 for the properties. Four properties and an additional lot were purchased. Two of the homes will be demolished because they are falling apart. The space left behind, which leads to a ravine, will be used for the placement of dirt excavated for the new diocesan hall later this year. “This will save us perhaps $15,000,” Fr. Adam said.
The clothing center’s new site also has a name change – The Clothing Center at Minnie’s Maison (French for house),” said Bates. Doc and Minnie West, who were longtime parishioners, previously lived in the home. The new name is in honor of Minnie. The garage behind the house will be used to store cathedral equipment. A new storage shed has been placed behind the house for material donations.
Bates said the new location has less space, but is contained on one level and is easier to access. The basement has much more room for storage. “We now have room for summer and winter (items)” added volunteer Roxanne Miner.
Volunteer Susan Schultz said the center has obtained nonprofit status. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time. (Lawyer) Molly Schnell did a lot of work for us to make this happen. Everything is falling into place.”
The center continues to partner with organizations such as Salvation Army and Cinderella’s Cellar.
Linda Lannan appreciated the number of volunteers who helped make moving day easier. Matt Craff, a member of the cathedral’s Knights of Columbus, learned about the move through an email. “I normally work third shift and sleep during the day. But this week was vacation and I decided to spare a couple of hours.”
“Sacred Heart Cathedral is committed to social justice,” Fr. Adam said. “We help fund the food pantry, clothing center, schools and more. We are here to serve those in need.”