By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — The clothing center at Minnie’s Maison, which Sacred Heart Cathedral sponsors, saw a 15 percent increase in customers and a 28 percent increase in people served in 2017 due to partnerships with area organizations.
Growth in the number of clients and of donations happened, even though the donation shed was moved, the cathedral was undergoing construction work and the driveway had to be repaved, center volunteers say.
Volunteers from various parishes in the Quad-City area help sort clothes and assist clients when the center is open, Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Volunteer Carolyn Bates said a Ladies Day was held in December with great attendance. “Seventy-five women signed up. Between the parish donations and Big Brothers Big Sisters, we made 75 women’s Christmas caring bags and 30 men’s Christmas caring bags.” Ten Big Brothers Big Sisters and their “littles” helped assemble the bags and make ornaments.
Donations arrive year-round. All Saints Catholic School in Davenport delivered boxes of shoes from a collection it held. Our Lady of Lourdes Parish members in Bettendorf dropped off more than 20 bags of clothing collected by parishioners. St. Ambrose University in Davenport provided volunteers and socks.
Tammy Norcross-Reitzer, head of the clothing center’s marketing committee and a campus minister at St. Ambrose, said the first-time sock collection brought in 241 pairs of socks. Kaitlin Depuydt, director of service and social justice in St. Ambrose’s campus ministry office, coordinated volunteers.
Norcross-Reitzer said she believes the increase in patrons has been due to word of mouth. “Our clients are so grateful for the clothes and household goods we provide, they tell their friends, neighbors and other family members. A few social workers are also spreading the word.” Bates said partnerships with a domestic abuse center, family development and self sufficiency program and work with foster parents also has helped spread the word about the center.
“We record individuals who shop as well as the number of adults and children they are shopping for,” Norcross-Reitzer said. Bates said the clothing center is working to set up a referral program so that agencies and groups can refer clients to shop by appointment.
Deacon Dan Huber of Sacred Heart Cathedral said the cathedral also operates The Food Pantry@ The Center, located on Brady Street in Davenport. “Our community has continuously operated a pantry for over 40 years,” he noted. “Eleven of the 12 months of 2017 were record months for our pantry while other pantries in the area have seen a slight reduction,” Deacon Huber said. “We have doubled the number of families served over the past four years.”
He attributes much of the increase to intentional efforts to work with agencies that shelter women who have been abused. “They come to us when they feel safest and are with other women who are in a similar situation. We have also extended our service area by a few blocks to help some neighbors who are being under-served at this time. In addition, over the past several years we have worked with the food bank to increase the amount of food, the amount of fresh fruit and veggies and the amount of protein that we can offer. As a result we have doubled the amount of food a family can receive when they visit us.”