Forks Disaster Relief grows with new director and extended hours

New location in the works

Spring means more than just setting out the shorts and swimwear at the local clothing bank. With a new hire and longer opening hours, the team is expanding their services and hoping to raise enough funds to move into a new space over the summer.

The non-profit thrift store Ginger’s Closet, operated by Forks Disaster Relief, is open with new operating hours from 11 am to 6 pm each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

A new Executive Director, Ms. Layla Rawls, has been hired to oversee the shop, manage the programs and services and to take on grant writing to help the organization grow. As a board member and part of the team re-launching the non-profit following its pandemic-related shutdown, Rawls has been volunteering several days each week since October 2021.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to deepen my involvement, to help grow our missions and services to the community,” said Rawls. “We all want to thank Heather Lietzke, who has been serving as clerk for the past year, and all our volunteers. We have a great team and I’m excited to see where we can go.”

So what is the new director’s first big task?

“Getting us into a new building!” laughs Rawls. “Thanks to a generous donation from the Church of the Nazarene, we have a beautiful new space that will be transformative in terms of what we can do and how much we can provide. But we need to do some essential upgrades, like installing a washing machine and roof repairs, before we can move there.”

The group plans to restore the historic building with spaces for the shop, disaster response services and more, including a maker space. In addition to aid, the non-profit’s mission includes providing alternatives to landfill for clothes and home textiles.

“A big goal for us this year is to create local employment while addressing our textile waste problem,” said Sena Engeseth, board member. “We want to use, not just send away, even the clothes that come to us partly damaged.”

Repair has helped, with free repair workshops offered monthly since July 2022. Clients can bring in garments they want to learn how to fix.

“Each month, we were shifting the racks and squeezing in a table to set up a repair station for a few hours,” said Engeseth. “The new building will mean we can set up a permanent workstation and hold more frequent workshops, trainings and create a maker space for upcycling.”

All are welcome to shop at 181 Bogachiel Way from 11 am to 6 pm every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Donations of clothing, accessories and home textiles are accepted during opening hours. A team of volunteers, including Gil Olsen, Maria Mora, Linda Keen, Tina Bettelyoun-Adams, Sena Engeseth, Dave Youngberg and Tiffany Straza, maintain the shop and support services.

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Ginger’s Closet is supported by donations of clothing, footwear, accessories and home textiles. Volunteers and one part-time staff member maintain the inventory, sales of which fund the financial aid delivered by Forks Disaster Relief.