CONYERS - Just five months ago, Conyers resident Jocelyn Green was running a nonprofit clothing organization out of her home with big dreams for her own space to help more needy people.
At the end of August, she found the space that she needed and has been able to help more residents than she would have ever imagined.
"At my last count, I had given out 1,041 articles of clothing in the last four months - that's very close to what I gave away in one year of working out of my basement," Green said Monday, adding that the holiday season and tough economic times have had a noticeable effect on many individuals.
Her 501(c)(3) organization, A Special Boutique, was created in October 2006 as a way to deliver free clothing items and accessories to needy individuals and families in DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties. During a time when fuel prices were high, Green would drive to people's homes to drop off professional clothing that they could wear to work or job interviews, as well as children's items.
While she was doing so, she had dreams of having a physical location that individuals could visit in order to help more people.
Earlier this year, she was taking a leadership program through Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead and was talking to her mentor about her nonprofit organization. That person told her to contact Robert Miller, president of leasing company The Miller Group.
She made an appointment with Miller to discuss business strategies and ideas for her organization, but she didn't know she would end up achieving part of her big dream - unbeknownst to Green and her mentor, Miller owned the Bank of America building on Ga. Highway 138 in Conyers and had an open space. After their meeting, he offered for her organization to use the space.
"I expected advice from him, and I walked away with a space," Green said. "It blew my mind."
Miller said it was God connecting the dots, since he and Green were part of the same circle but had never met before then.
"For about the last year, I've been looking at different ways to use my business," Miller said. "As landlords, we plan to have empty space, so why not have it be used?"
He said he hopes other landlords follow this practice to help out other similar organizations.
In the space, A Special Boutique has a showroom, a training center and a small reading room.
When Green's clients - those men, women and children who have been in contact with Green through a government agency or a caseworker - come into the space, they meet with her for a couple of minutes to discuss their needs and then they are able to "shop" for a few items of clothing.
Green said having this opportunity to shop for clothing, rather than have it simply handed over, allows needy individuals to not feel so bad about taking the gifts.
"Usually, every person leaves here with their esteem boosted," she said. "I have volunteers, and (the guests) love the one-on-one attention and leave very happy getting such nice clothing."
Guests also can use the boutique's training center to get employment training and work on their resume or visit the small reading room to look at inspirational books.
"We're really trying hard to get these people who generally are in transition by losing a job or not finding a job," Green said. "We do everything in our power to help lift their spirits and help them get back onto the road to self sufficiency."
Green hopes to expand her organization in the future with more volunteers and services.
To become a volunteer at A Special Boutique or to donate funds or gently used professional attire, children's clothing and accessories, contact Green by calling 404-819-5341 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about A Special Boutique is available online at www.aspecialboutique.org.