After 22 years of providing clothing to the women of the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas, New Image found a new way to give back to the community: donating clothes to the essential working women of …
After 22 years of providing clothing to the women of the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas, New Image found a new way to give back to the community: donating clothes to the essential working women of Jefferson County.
For four days over the past two weeks, New Image has offered a giveaway of clothing and accessories at its office in the Mountain View Commons complex on Blaine Street.
It was the first time the nonprofit opened its doors since the complex closed down due to COVID-19 restrictions in March.
“This event is specifically to say thank you to the essential workers who were working when most of us were staying home,” said Martha Olbrych, president of New Image’s board. Olbrych and her team put up flyers for the giveaway in county grocery stores, pharmacies and medical offices, among other places of essential employment.
The essential workers who came in were greeted by racks of shirts, pants, dresses, and workout wear, as well as a wide variety of shoes and accessories such as jewelry and handbags.
This display, set up in the organization’s office/inventory room, was just a sample of the offerings that New Image’s regular clients get to choose from in the adjoining boutique room. The clothes come from community members as well as New Image’s partner organizations, which include OlyCAP, the Dove House, the Department of Corrections, and East Jefferson Fire Rescue, organizations that refer many of New Image’s clients to them.
New Image’s regular clients are first interviewed about their favorite colors and styles, and the work or circumstances that they need the clothing for. They are then assisted by a group of volunteers who act as dressers, browsing the organization’s racks of diverse and curated clothes and accessories, bringing outfits to the client in the changing room. Outfits are almost always adorned with jewelry and handbags to complete the look.
“It’s like something a woman would experience at a high-end retail store like Nordstrom or Saks (Fifth Avenue),” said board Vice President Leslie Freeman.
Clients usually leave with up to five bags of outfits, special events coordinator Jeanne Clark said, which may be anywhere from formal to athletic in nature and may include newly-bought intimate wear. Clients can also leave with a voucher for a free haircut at numerous local salons and barbershops.
For Olbrych and the large team of volunteers, their goal is to help clients develop a new image for themselves, and boost their confidence in doing so.
“A lot of the women have had some difficult life experiences so we try to make them feel beautiful again,” Freeman said.
After receiving feedback from many clients who emphasized how confident their experience with New Image made them, the organization rebranded last year with the slogan “Where Clothes Build Confidence.” As part of their rebrand, the organization changed its name of over 20 years, Working Image, to New Image in order to reflect their goal of providing clothing to all women in the region.
“Women who need clothes need them for all sorts of different reasons, whether they’re looking for jobs, raising children, getting divorced, escaping domestic violence or recovering from house fires,” Olbrych told The Leader after the organization celebrated the renovation of their space and their rebranding last May.
“A lot of the time the clients that we see haven’t felt good about themselves for a while, so they are usually just ecstatic when they leave,” Freeman said. “They’re really excited about a top or a dress that we fitted them in, and it’s so nice to see them walk out the door with a huge smile on their face. They just feel 10 feet tall.”
Freeman said that the local community and their partner organizations have been so generous with their donations that they often have overflow and are able to set up a clothes rack at the Port Townsend Food Bank, which sits just down the hall from New Image in the Mountain View complex. This rack often includes the basics — warm clothing, gloves, hats, socks, and any menswear they receive as donations.
For now, New Image and the building it sits in are still closed to the public.
Once the Mountain View Commons is open, New Image will re-open for its regular hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
More information can be found at www.newimagept.org.