Clothes Cabin in Gilbert is providing free clothing, shoes and other support services to those in need.
The clothing bank is part of a small, mainly volunteer-based nonprofit called One Small Step, which was formed in 2001.
Founder Caryn Shoemaker got the idea to start One Small Step after volunteering with her church to provide socks to migrant workers and their families.
Shoemaker and a small group of women from her church continued this ministry on their own for eight years, donating socks to local clothing banks.
When one of those clothing banks closed, Shoemaker and some other One Small Step volunteers got the idea to open their own clothing bank. Soon after, Clothes Cabin made its debut.
Originally based in Chandler, Clothes Cabin relocated to Gilbert last November after outgrowing its space.
In its new location, people cannot only shop for clothing and other essential needs, such as hygiene products and school supplies, but also have access to showers, mailboxes and laundry services if needed.
Amanda Nosbisch, executive director of One Small Step, joined the organization three years ago after leaving her position as a program manager in the Kyrene School District.
“When I got the opportunity to work with this small nonprofit doing exactly what I love – serving people in need in meaningful ways – I knew I had to be a part of it,” Nosbisch said.
Clothes Cabin welcomes anyone who is unable to purchase clothing or basic necessities on their own.
“There’s no income threshold or certain zip code you have to live in,” said Nosbisch. “Just come to us and explain that you need help and we’ll help you.”
For reporting and grant purposes, clients are asked to fill out a basic demographic intake form and then given an allotment sheet indicating how many items they can select.
Typically, individuals are allowed about eight articles of clothing, one pair of new socks and one pair of new underwear and are welcome to visit Clothes Cabin once every three months as needed.
The organization relies on the support of the community for donations of clothing, shoes, linens and other essentials for those in need.
However, in an effort to provide quality items to its clients, donations are thoroughly inspected by Clothes Cabin volunteers, who look for clothing that is free from stains, odors or holes.
“We go through and sort all of the donations to ensure they meet our standards and our needs,” said Nosbisch. “It should be something we’d put on ourselves or put on our sons and daughters.”
Nosbisch said they are most in need of kids clothing, men’s clothes – particularly size small – and athletic shoes for all sizes.
In addition to clothing, the organization also provides other services, including its Homeless Assistance Program, Back to Work Program and a Community Classroom.
Clients who are homeless can utilize the facility’s showers, mailboxes and laundry services on a weekly basis for no charge.
Through the Back to Work Program, those seeking employment have access to professional attire for interviewing.
Additionally, clients who have recently been employed and who are in a position requiring a specific type of clothing or shoes for the job – such as scrubs or steel-toed boots – can find what they need at Clothes Cabin.
When the organization moved into its Gilbert location, the interior was designed specifically to include a space where other local nonprofits could partner with One Small Step to offer community classes and workshops.
Nosbisch said they had planned to start offering community classes in March, but due to COVID-19, all classes were canceled. Now, they are hoping to begin classes sometime in the next month.
“We intend to partner with other agencies at no charge offering parenting classes, grief coping, English Language Learner classes, support groups for parents of grandchildren and cyberbullying courses,” said Nosbisch.
All classes will be available to the public, not just clients of One Small Step.
Despite some difficulties the organization has had to navigate over the past months due to the pandemic, including a shortage of volunteers and uncertainties surrounding their financial goals, Nosbisch said she still feels a sense of reward knowing they are doing their part to make a difference.
“Our clients are so grateful,” said Nosbisch. “When I see the relief on a parent’s face because we have the right things they need, you can just see the stress lifted off. It’s very meaningful and shows how easy it is to change someone’s story.”