Intervention: Anything But My Own Skin

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dress for Success Service Day

I twisted the faded gold nob to the left and pushed on the wooden door with my left palm.  The door stopped after six inches.  I pushed harder.  Still the door didn't move.  After realizing no amount of strength was going to open the door, I tightened every muscle in my body and slid through the crack.  The room was dark.  I couldn't see a thing.  Only my hands offered a means to discover the contents of the room.  My hands felt cardboard boxes, cloth that must have been shirts and pants, and silk that felt like ties.  I guess that made since since it was the "Dress for Success" closet at a local recovery center.  Finally, my hands discovered a light switch and with a quick flick of the switch the fluorescent lights hummed and illuminated the room.  What a mess!  Cardboard boxes were slammed from the floor all the way to the drop down ceiling.  Shirts, pants, hats, shoes, ties, and belts were overflowing from the boxes.  Black garbage bags, filled with all types of clothes, were tossed all over the place.  Some of the bags were spilling on the floor, some were torn, and others were tied shut.  There were old steel racks where many of the dress shirts, dress pants, and ties were hanging.  A few shirts were wrinkly, a few were freshly pressed, and a few were just normal.  I looked back over my shoulder at one of the residents with a look of despair.  He shrugged his shoulders and let out a small sigh.  Well I came here to work, so I guess I can handle this.  

The resident and I went to work.  Hours passed.  We threw boxes around the room, we ripped open the donated clothes and piled all the dress shoes into the middle of the room.  We were getting somewhere now.  The room was clearing.  The clothes were being hung on the racks and I felt like I was accomplishing something.  It felt good, but I didn't want to just organize the clothes and then four months later have the place be a wreck again.  I looked over at the resident and asked what to do with the shoes.  He said just pile them up under the racks.  No way, I have to do something better than that.  I have to leave my mark.  I can't just let my efforts of clearing the room get cluttered again.  There needs to be a system.  A light bulb popped in my head and I told the resident I'm running to home depot.  He looked confused, but I knew he would understand soon.  An hour passed and I was back with six pieces of plywood cut specifically to go under the iron racks.  It was perfect.  The shoes had a new home.  The shelves would keep the room clean.  It made me feel good.  I created an improvement that would last for these guys looking to improve their lives.  I felt high.  I felt clean.  I felt better than I had felt in a long time.

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