A Too Big Kind of Day

I suppose the little guy was about 10 years old and even though they were clearly 2 sizes too big, he had to have THOSE shoes! “Oh no, they’re great,” he said. I tried to offer him others to try on with no luck. His mom was completely open to whatever he wanted, and that’s cool, but I’m sweating it a little because well-fitting shoes are a “Threads thing.”

A few minutes later, they are quietly conversing and the mom comes up to me in tears. She tells me that her son wants those shoes for his dad who is getting out of prison tomorrow. Now we’re both crying because in an instant, we both know that this young man, her son, is going to change the world.

Clothing children with dignity, one pair of shoes at a time.

– Lori Guarisco, Threads Coordinator

Threads Baby Gap

“They love it! They call you ‘Threads Baby Gap,’” says Allison Parks of Connecting Communities & Families (CCF), who recently spoke with volunteers Edward Fernandez-Vila and Bob Miller about their clients’ experience at Threads. CCF serves clients in the State of Georgia’s TANF program (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and is just one of the referral partners we’ve been in conversation with to better understand the on-going and changing needs of our neighborhood families as “Threads Baby Gap” grows on the All Saints’ block! We’ve been asking our partners, “What more can we do?” Over and over again we hear from our families that Threads has really saved them when they’re out of diapers or laundry soap, when they must choose between shoes that actually fit or food, when school has “uniforms only” policies, or when they just want their children to have something wonderful to wear for Easter – “Threads Baby Gap” is there!!!

If you’re interested in knowing more about Threads, please consider volunteering on a Thursday or Saturday morning, and you just might get the feeling that you helped save someone’s day!! I have posted a poem about just that below and I do hope you enjoy it.
———-
Light House

To be a lighthouse
Dressed in red stripes
Must be the grandest
Acting job ever dreamt of.

Who is it that cast you for this roll?
Who paints your costume?
Who repairs you when years of
Waves and wind
Tear your bricks loose?

May I climb your stairs,
so like strains of DNA?
Mix with your marrow?
Holy thespian
May I cast a shadow across your strips?
Be blinded in your mirrors
As I search for my reflection?
May I too save ships
From crashing into the rocks?

– Lori Guarisco, Threads Coordinator

Where to start?

Last week a mom came into Threads, and she was loaded down with troubles.  Said she needed help and really didn’t know where to start. Of course, right away I think she’s hungry! Where to start? We started with clothes.

When she left, I wondered where that family would share their lunch today.  NOTE: Below is a fictionalized “list”, a piece of prose, names and food groups have been changed to protect the Vegans. I do hope it helps you to enjoy every meal just that much more. Written by me for False Magazine 2008.

FALSE #2
Soup Kitchen

Sunday –Dinner: 8 PM (must attend chapel services)
-tonight it will rain-
Atlanta City Baptist Rescue Mission: 316 Peters St.
Patty melts, calloused hands, egg salad, fried okra, goulash, poor excuses, separate doors, baby back ribs and sweet tea. Sliced apples, will I be late?

Monday – Lunch: 11 AM (homeless women and children only)
– best soup in town-
Atlanta Urban Ministry: 458 Ponce de Leon Ave.
Watermelon, collards, wet broom, grape jelly, old business, broken heart, scrambled eggs, bananas, biscuits, tacos, turkey wings and iceberg lettuce with no shredded carrot topped with French.

Tuesday – Breakfast: 7 AM (no restrictions)
-stained coffee cups rattle when unloaded from the dishwasher-
Rock Church of Atlanta: 638 Glenwood Ave.
American cheese on white, vets, green dish soap, link sausage, soft napkins, apple butter, buttermilk pancakes, Out of Order, peaches in syrup.  Red Velvet Cake, pizza, foil pans with black edges, hamburgers, graham crackers, white bean soup, bacon, scalloped potatoes missing limbs and corn on the cob.

Wednesday – Dinner: 6 PM (following church service)
-solid preaching behind a soft voice-
Safehouse Outreach: 89 Ellis St.
Bed rolls, wafer cookies, bad manners, baked beans, nappy head, sliced tomatoes, suicidal, broccoli, grits, squash casserole, rice and peas, chop suey, good Christian ladies, beets, moon pies, long line and bread sticks.

Thursday – Dinner: 4 PM (verification of homeless/needy status)
-strangers off Greyhound-
Community Concerns: 276 Decatur St.
Spaghetti, chicken fried steak, no cell phones, chicken fingers, smiling Miss Donna, granola bars, stained aprons, corn muffins, one too many, tuna fish sandwich, volunteers, white gravy, light headed, macaroni and cheese and touched by an angel.

Friday – Hours vary (must be homeless)
-gold dome shines-
Crossroads Community Ministries: 420 Courtland St.
Coffee, brownies, salmon patty on a biscuit, suspicious persons, pretzels, red juice, creamed corn, pickles, cousins, Aunt Jamima syrup, butter pad, egg rolls and hot dog tongs.  Chicken soup, pork chops, hash browns and hang over.

Saturday – Breakfast: 10:30 AM (no restrictions)
-police on horseback-
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church: 48 MLK Drive
Children should be swimming today or playing marbles or jacks, their mothers laughing and told they are beautiful while the daddys catch fish and feel proud.

Not Everyone Gets a Baby Shower

I’ve been invited to several Baby Showers lately. It seems like all the children of my friends are expecting at once! My “go to” gift has always been a baby bathtub full of baby bath goodies. I really had never thought about it much until three moms walked into Threads on Saturday in the rain each carrying a small infant! They were as thrilled to be at Threads as we were to have 3 babies all at once! And they each needed, well, everything. One mom told me the blanket that her baby was wrapped in was her only one. Our volunteers Jane, Kelly, Millie and Larry teamed up and helped the moms shop. After an hour or so, shopping wrapped up, red bags got packed then the whole “getting out of the house with a baby” thing began at Threads!! First, the diaper change, then the layering, oh no now he wants to be fed, and I’ve lost the pacifier!!! It was all that times three!!! And during this tornado of delightful baby-ness, I’m reminded that these moms didn’t have their own baby showers, but that this little “ baby party” we just threw at Threads was really special for all of us!

All three of these moms are in the process of breaking the cycle of addiction, imprisonment, poverty, and homelessness for their children. Thanks to the recent generous donations of baby clothes, the shop currently has a plethora of beautiful baby clothes, blankets, hats, bibs, socks and shoes and diapers, but we don’t have bath tubs!

Help us help these moms by donating baby bath tubs and bath goodies. It’s sometimes that little “extra” that creates the most love!

By Lori Guarisco, Threads Coordinator

Threads Recap 2018

Greetings from Threads,

I can’t believe it’s February already! Thanks to the GALAS 2018 Winter Coat Drive, our clothing racks continue to brim with colorful winter coats; 390 coats were collected the month of November and they are still coming in! I remember last year at this time, The Lion King was playing at the Fox Theater and we got a snow day, my favorite kind of day as a kid, but on that particular snow day, I was just worried that a child might not have a coat.

Excitement is in the air on the All Saints’ campus with the block expansion beginning to be dreamed up. With regard to Service Ministries, the question on everyone’s mind is, “How can we do better, serve more, connect deeper?” With these goals in mind, I want to share some of the happenings from the past year:

  1. To start, Threads clothed over 1300 kids in 2018, and 400 of those children came through the shop in July and August to get ready to go back to school.
  2. We have a 6 new agency partners: The Boyce L. Ansley School at St. Luke’s, Purpose Built Schools, Grateful Hearts, Agape Youth and Family Center, Action Ministries Inc., and St. Jude’s Recovery Center.
  3. We received more donations of clothing than I have ever seen in my fifteen years at All Saints’. We’ve been instrumental in helping our Congolese friends fill a cargo container to take clothing to children in the Congo. Stay tuned for a video of the last trip with a special thank you from the villagers.
  4. During the All Saints’ Staff Retreat, our very own in-house rockers, Tim and Maurice, created the perfect band for me to cement my title of Diva Blues Rockstar! Oh, and we all had a chance to meet the new Threads Liaison, Associate Rector Kim Jackson, another Rockstar.
  5. The St. Martin’s Brownie Troop visited to volunteer. They didn’t bring cookies, but they did each bring a bag of their own clothes to donate. One of the Brownies announced as soon as she came into the shop, “Lori, I’ve got a baby cousin, so if any babies come in, I’ve got this!”
  6. Super yummy Italian food for our Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. (See what you miss if you don’t volunteer?)
  7. Our most popular event was the Refugee Ministries and Westminster School collaboration, which happens twice a year. The Westminister bus brings about 15 refugee kids to Threads where they shop with the Westminster kids, make friends, and share a nice lunch in Tate Hall.
  8. For you folks that love numbers, 12,000 pieces of clothing went home with our shoppers in our signature red bags, as well as 14,000 pairs of socks and underwear!
  9. Unfortunately, two of my main sources for buying shoes went out of business (K-Mart and Fallas). Anyone have a source for sneakers or shoes that I could explore?

Bottom line: 2018 was a great year for Threads. Please consider volunteering with us to make 2019 even better. You might think you know what happens in the shop, but until you see a child’s face with their red shopping bag full of great clothes just for them, you really can’t appreciate the potency of this incredible ministry. We’re not just socks, and there are no sewing skills required to volunteer!

Sign up here to volunteer.

Please check out our new Instagram account and Facebook page.

With my deepest respect,

Lori Guarisco, Threads Coordinator

Summer at Threads

Summer Break they call it now, somehow it went from Summer Vacation to Summer Break.

Grandmothers are synonymous with Summer Vacation for me, and for that matter all things wonderful. Maybe that’s why I have a special place in my heart for all the Grandmothers we meet at Threads. Many of which are raising their babygrands, as Maurice R. likes to call them, alone. And even if not, it’s certainly quite likely that Gramma is in charge over summer break! We see this every year at Threads, as soon as the kids are out of school, here comes Grandma, usually she knows exactly what they need and the right size.

These past couple of weeks this Grandmother, me, hasn’t been so sure about what her babygrands need. You see this summer marks my first of many, I hope, Summer Vacation trips to Gramma Lori’s for my two grandsons who live in San Francisco. Like the little fire crackers that they are, they arrive on the 4th of July! With no parents, I am over the moon excited. While I’m feeling anxious and worked up as I can be about what “they need”, I know in my heart that the love the boys and I share will be enough! Even so, I’ve been working for weeks to make sure their favorite foods are on hand, they both have a private space in my house for reading or relaxing alone; I bought new sheets and pillows for them and have emptied out a nice dresser for their clothes. Sparklers, sun screen, bug spray, ice cream, cards, night lights and a couple play dates, check!! I’m as ready as I’ll ever be! I still need to acquire a couple of bikes to borrow for the summer, hint!

Through this planning, I am humbled, thinking about the Grandmothers coming into Threads, knowing they want the same fabulous summer for their babygrands as I do. Here’s a true story I wrote a few years back. A sweet family, referred by East Lake Foundation came into Threads as the children were badly in need of clothing.

Three beautiful little girls came in with their grandmother, who had just rescued them from the mother who had kidnapped them 2 years ago, then decided she didn’t want them. They were found in Nevada, neglected and being beaten with a spatula by the new boyfriend (the girls’ father was serving in Iraq).

The grandmother was quite wonderful; my feeling was that the girls were going to be fine. The love was visible and the children clearly loved their Gramma and felt safe. The older one was about 7 or 8 and had never been to school, no immunizations, etc. and the grandmother was scrambling to get legal custody so she can get them in school. The kids had nothing, no jacket etc., so I made sure to give them each an extra pair of shoes and swimsuits.

Clothing Kids With Dignity! We’ve been doing it here at Threads for close to 15 years, one Grandmother at a time!!!!

 

By Lori Guarisco, Threads Coordinator