Purchasing affordable clothes and helping victims of domestic violence go hand in hand at one new Airway Heights store.
After searching across numerous locations in Spokane for their thrift store over the past couple of years, the Women’s Healing and Empowerment Network selected Airway Heights as its home for Cleone’s Closet, located at 13514 W. Sunset Highway.
The store, which opened Monday, Jan. 14, sells low-priced, gently used clothing for adults and kids and other household items. Proceeds from the sales will help fund the organization, including healing centers, direct assistance to residents and programs and services. Transportation, personal care items, educational supplies and numerous other elements of the organization’s operations will receive some additional financial help with the store.
The non-profit WHE Network provides healing centers, counseling and advocacy for victims of domestic violence.
Mable Dunbar and her husband Colin moved from Michigan to Spokane 12 years ago when Colin received a job as pastor with an area church. It was only natural for Dunbar to continue her work here in the Inland Northwest.
“We are passionate about helping women and men understand their potential in Christ,” she said.
Donations can be made during business hours, and are tax-deductible. Aside from clothes, Cleone’s Closet also accepts china, glassware, books, furniture and other items.
Donations that clients can use are given to residents at any of the three WHE Network’s healing centers. Items they can use typically include clothes, shoes, food and other basic necessities. From there, donated items make their way to the thrift store.
“The idea was to provide a means, program or a ministry whereby our clients can work and can give back to the organization. We run healing centers, but our clients can’t afford it, so they get our services free,” Dunbar said.
Working in the store also helps build a client’s work history, providing yet another level of support once their time in the organization is finished.
Grants and other financial donations help fund a large part of the WHE Network’s operations.
The store has clothes for both men and women, a special room for kids items and other various items for purchase.
While staying at any of the WHE Network’s healing centers, clients can volunteer to work at the store. The organization can currently help up to 12 women. Four employees currently run the store, but more help will likely be coming soon from more volunteers.
“This is twofold. It was made to make funding to put back into the ministry, but also give them an opportunity to work. Some of them may not have many life skills; some of them have never really been permitted to make their own money or keep their own money,” Dunbar said.
WHE Network marketing director Taffy Hunter said a lot of manpower went into the vision of the store, making it turn from a dream into a reality very quickly. She said the project really gained momentum in November last year with the board of directors.
One concern in opening the store, particularly during this time of the year, was any potential inclimate weather. The store passed its first test at the grand opening, making it through a fresh snowstorm in the morning.
Initially starting the WHE Network in Spokane provided a safe place for women to begin to heal from abusive relationships.
“I just wanted a safe place for women to go and be able to find healing,” Dunbar said.
With her Christian faith, Dunbar knows where to place her blessings for the growing organization and the group of people with whom she works.
“Without God’s blessings, we couldn’t do what we have done,” she said.
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.