Baby Luv and PSMJax Partner to Bring Clothing and Hope to
Expectant Mothers and Families With Young Children.
Baby Luv operates out of a small cottage with a welcoming front porch just west of the river on Timequana Road. Three days a week, for two hours, the doors open wide to give low-income mothers and families free access to the essentials of baby and mother care, including diapers, clothing, shoes, personal hygiene essentials, cribs, strollers, baby seats, and more. While the need for clothing and other essentials is the draw, both bags and hearts are filled here.
Baby Luv is a program of Community Health Outreach, which also runs a food pantry and a low-cost medical and dental clinic. Baby Luv has become a place where women know that grace abounds, and they feel safe sharing their life stories. “We are not just a come in, grab your diapers, and go kind of agency,” said Shavon Botsford, Baby Luv’s director. “We want women to feel that if there is more they need on a mental, emotional, or spiritual level, they can ask for it here.”
Initially, clients come for clothing, diapers, and other essentials. A fresh supply attracts clients over the long term as they work to keep their children clothed through rapid growth spurts. Over time, relationships develop as the staff and volunteers lend an ear and gain the confidence of clients. In addition to stocking the small space with an abundance of clothing, books, toys, and more, staff looks for signs of emotional distress, abuse, or mental health issues among caregivers. Providing clothing and other essentials often leads to healing hearts. “We are here to listen, we are here to connect, and we are here to support,” said Botsford.
Two days a week, staff restock the shop with clothing and other household goods from PSMJax and other donors. “We pick up inventory from PSMJax once a month, and having items already sorted and labeled by size and season is a real-time-saver,” said Botsford. “We are able to get those items out on the floor without delay, and they go quick! We are packed after we unload a pickup from PSMJax, but within 2-3 weeks, we are ready for a new batch. If we could make pick-up runs more than once a month, we would!”
PSMJax has made it easier for Baby Luv to include clothing for different age groups and even trendy items for mothers thanks to donations from a valuable women’s retail partner. Valuable baby equipment is often included. Botsford explained the greatest reward is seeing the serendipity that occurs here so often. “To see the crib that was donated come off the truck and then literally, as we are unloading it, to see a mother come up and say, ‘I need this…I’m about to give birth next month’ is the most beautiful thing,” Botsford said.
While PSMJax does not make direct contact with the individuals who receive the clothing, hygiene, and household donations, their role is invaluable to the agencies they support. “PSMJax is literally the lifeblood of our program,” said Botsford. “We have a skeleton crew of volunteers, and the organization PSMJax provides makes our job so much easier! If you are supporting the mission of PSMJax, you are supporting us!”
PMSJax distributes over 300,000 items annually to over 23 partner agencies that redistribute it at no cost to approximately 60,000 recipients in northeast Florida, Palm Beach County, and various other countries. The goal is to connect those who have with those who need, and though they don’t physically put clothes into the hands of the needy, they secure and manage the inventory for dozens of organizations that do. Together we achieve what cannot be done alone and change lives in the process.
Shavon Botsford, Baby Luv's Director
Baby Luv website
The Donovin Darius Makes Clothing Distribution Part of Every Community
Outreach Through a Partnership With PSMJax.
The mission of the Donovin Darius Foundation is to support and empower young people and those in under served communities to pursue the best versions of themselves. Sometimes that happens through the contribution of a new shirt, a new dress, fresh undergarments, or new shoes.
Inspired and led by former Jaguars safety Donovin Darius, the Foundation’s participation in outreach events across the region is a strong testament to their belief in helping those in need. Recognizing dignity as an important part of that process, many of their outreach events include the distribution of new or gently used clothing. Eugene Darius, Donovin’s brother, is tasked with bringing this outreach vision to life. At a recent clothing distribution at Trinity Rescue Mission, Darius spoke with PSMJax about the Foundation’s work and the value of the partnership between the two agencies.
“We support every positive outreach in the city that we can,” said Darius. “We support homeless feedings, juveniles in jails, and children. At homeless shelters, we feed the residents, provide clothes and haircuts, and give motivational speeches.” Darius shared that his family lived in poverty, giving them a unique understanding of the struggles of the population they serve. “Our purpose is to serve others, and Donovin has leveraged his brand to accomplish that and to partner with other agencies to serve the needy.” The Foundation often participates with Bold Endeavors, a nonprofit run by Eugene Darius and his wife, as well as Impact Church to sponsor community give-away events that include the distribution of food, clothing, and other necessities.
Providing new clothes to individuals is an important component of family outreach events that serve anywhere from 50-300 individuals. “We’ve all seen a homeless person. Imagine what a new shirt, a new pair of shoes, and a haircut can do for someone’s morale,” said Darius. “The partnership with PSMJax has really given us the ability to impact the lives of the people we serve.” Receiving fresh, new clothing can be profoundly impactful. “At every event, whether to serve the homeless or other individuals, I have personally seen tears, laughter, and joy,” said Darius.
The Foundation was connected with PSMJax through Sylvester Pinckney with the Kids Hope Alliance. Pinckney knew about the Foundation’s work and told them about Presbyterian Social Ministries. “It’s been a wonderful relationship ever since,” said Darius. The Foundation used to collect clothing for distribution from individual donors. This took a great deal of time to sort and valuable space in Darius’ home garage. By using PSMJax for clothing, the storage problem is solved, and items come sorted and labeled. “When I receive items, they are labeled by size, color, long sleeve/short sleeve, black/white socks. Everything is so organized that it makes our job easier. When we distribute the clothing, someone can just walk up and tell us what size they need, and we have it ready,” Darius said. With PSMJax, the Foundation is assured that the clothing is good quality and available in every size – for men, women, and children. “We walk in now with enough goods for everyone – some of which we used to have to pay for.
It has saved us thousands of dollars.” The highly organized inventory also makes it easier to meet individual needs. “For some young people in high school, I was able to put in a request to Neil at PSM, and he fulfilled it in abundance and changed those young people’s lives.”
Darius touched on the commitment of PSMJax to connect those who have with those who need, saying, “They put their donations back into the hands of people who need them.” Darius expressed gratitude for every event impacted by the donations of PSMJax. “Imagine a family – a man, a woman, and their
children – walking away with bags of clothing. And imagine what that has done for that family, how it changes their lives.”
Donovin Darius website
"PSMJax’s social media footprint excelled under the leadership of Adventina Kiyeyeu. She scripted, recorded, and edited all of the videos you see on PSM's YouTube channel including many other pictures you will see sprinkled throughout all of our sites. Adventina’s expertise and guidance have greatly enhanced our virtual reach and we couldn’t have done it without her."
-- Teri Ketchum, CEO
Bedding and School Uniforms Fill a Big Void for Families Served by
Through our Clothing with Purpose Program, we have partnered with Family Promise of Jacksonville (FPJ) a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to end homelessness to families with children. Our partnership offers an opportunity to collaborate with FPJ by donating clothing items, beddings items, shoes, face masks, and other items that get donated to our organization by individuals, businesses, and corporate partnerships. These items help a family as they transition from homelessness.
The genesis of Family Promise came from one woman’s determination to keep homeless families together in shelters for the homeless. Over 30 years ago, Family Promise was born out of that determination when the founder encountered a single mother and her two boys on the streets of New York City in the middle of winter, despite the availability of multiple shelters. When asked why she wasn’t sheltering inside, the mother explained that her boys were just old enough that most shelters would send them to the men’s side of the shelter and her to the women’s side. She refused. Family Promise now has over 240 affiliate groups in 43 states. Family Promise Jacksonville started in 2006 and just celebrated its 15th year of service to homeless or near-homeless families in Jacksonville.
The families that receive support from Family Promise all look different. The common denominator, explains Executive Director Mark Landschoot, is children. It could be a single mom or dad with their children. Two parents, an adult child, smaller children, and a grandmother. It might be grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Every family is different, but every family includes children, and this program keeps them together as a unit as they emerge from homelessness to self-sufficiency.
Family Promise has three levels of support.
The Emergency Congregational Rotation is a Temporary Shelter program for homeless families. A network of area churches provides shelter one week at a time, housing families on a rotating basis. Volunteers provide home-cooked meals, and families stay together in private sleeping rooms. Case Management services and school transportation are provided during this time.
The Family Support Program continues to support these families after they emerge from temporary to stable housing. This program also helps sustain families that may be one electric payment or rent payment away from falling into homelessness. In both programs, the focus is on individual case management with services that encompass affordable housing, gainful employment, financial awareness, medical needs, and educational needs.
Rapid Rehousing is a new arm of support offered by Family Promise that is currently working to move families forced into extended stay hotels during COVID into apartments or other stable housing. These are often working families caught in the “hotel trap” – making just enough to pay for the hotel week to week but not enough to pay for the extras (1st months’ rental deposit, electricity deposit, etc.) to transition into more stable housing.
Landschoot and Development Director Beth Mixson reflected on the vital role PSMJax plays in their ability to provide for the families they serve. Mixson considers the pillows, mattress covers, and blankets provided by PSM through corporate partner Helix as the most significant contribution. “Sleep is such a basic human need,” said Mixson. “To have clean, fresh bedding is such a gift. It is dignity and hospitality in action.” Upon seeing a room set up with beds and lamps and tables, one mother considering the program asked, “Who else will share this room with us?” When she was told that the room was for her family alone, she broke down in tears.
The partnership started years ago with the exchange of clothing, which is still a vital component of the relationship. The many children in the program need school clothes and increasingly need school uniforms. Those needs are filled by The Giving Closet Project, another PSM partner that receives the bulk of school uniforms and clothes they distribute from PSMJax. Landschoot remarked on the long relationship Family Promise has had with PSMJax surrounding clothing needs. He said it started small, and remarks on how organized the operation has become. On the first day of school, back-to-school pictures are always a big deal. “Thanks to clothing provided by PSM, those pictures are so exciting for us and the families,” said Mixson. During COVID, PSM was also able to provide Family Promise with enough masks for all the families over an extended period. “I have a minivan, and every time I go to Presbyterian Social Ministries for supplies, I come back with a van so full I have to be careful to make sure I can see out the back of the van.” A lot of basic needs are filled at no cost with the items from PSM. This leaves families with the extra money they can use to fill up their gas tank or order important documents like birth certificates needed for school or doctor visits. “Even the fun stuff is important,” said Mixson. “We can often get costumes at Halloween, and what better way to celebrate childhood. Who doesn’t want to be a baby dinosaur or a fairy princess!”
Mixson explains that PSMJax has been a force in building partnerships with companies like Helix (for bedding) and Centrix (school uniforms), and Family Promise has been the beneficiary. The three rooms at Family Promise headquarters dedicated to respite for each family are outfitted with bedding from PSMJax. If PSM vanished, we would have to go to another community agency for clothing, household, and bedding needs,” Mixson explained. “But, even those agencies are supplied by PSMJax, so their existence has a ripple effect throughout the community.” Family Promise leaders explain that they don’t have the space or expertise to operate a clothing closet and depend on PSMJax for that important contribution. “I know that what PSMJax needs more than anything is warehouse space. We are hoping that happens because the impact would be tremendous,” said Mixson.
Mark Landschoot, Executive Director
Beth Mixson, Development Director
Family Promise Jax website
Through our Clothing with Purpose Program, we have partnered with
Rethreaded Inc, a nonprofit organization in Jacksonville, Florida that
provides employment to survivors of human trafficking.
Rethreaded believes that every survivor should have the chance to rebuild their lives. Their mission is to employ, train, and reignite hope for 500 local survivors of human trafficking by the year 2031.
We provide clothing items, predominantly t shirts, which are transformed into various accessories which are sold to bring financial support to their organization.
This partnership enables us to be a part of a bigger purpose of restoring dignity to survivors of human trafficking.
Kristin Keen, Founder and CEO of Rethreaded
Three Grains of Rice and PSMJax:
The Global Reach and the Impact it Has
Through our partnership with Three Grains of Rice Missions, we are able to have a global reach and impact. Items donated to Three Grains of Rice are not only given to individuals in need in the Jacksonville community, but also other communities in countries like Cuba, Cali-Colombia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Venezuela, Guatemala, and many more. We provide clothing, masks, shoes, and various items that we receive from our donors.
Ed Perez, President and CEO
Three Grains of Rice Missions website
PMSJax Helps UCOM Urban Serve Revive Clothing Support Services
Our partnership with United Community Outreach Ministry (UCOMJax) has enabled them to establish a clothing service that offers professional wear free of charge to heads of families/caregivers to eliminate the cost of buying clothes such as scrubs, suit pants and shirts, and shoes. Our Clothing with Purpose Program sets aside these professional clothing items specifically for UCOMJax to serve their clients. Other donations include pillows and mattresses which we receive through our partnership with Helix Sleep.
Since 1978, UCOM Urban Serve has shrived to address the needs of people living in poverty in south Jacksonville. Volunteers from five original partner churches started by going door to door to learn about the needs of low-income residents in their neighborhoods. They eventually expanded Meals on Wheels in the area, established a food pantry, started a youth employment program, and set up a clothing closet. Their expertise in food distribution grew, and this became their focus. The clothing distribution program ended, not because it wasn’t needed, but due to tremendous challenges with inventory management and storage.
Today, UCOM Urban Serve has 62 participating churches and serves over 1800 families with emergency services and through Meals on Wheels to over 300. A recent survey revealed that clothing was still one of the top three budget challenges for families. Executive director Sara Mitchell began exploring ways to bring back clothing distribution services without the previous challenges. When she discovered Presbyterian Social Ministries’ (PSMJax) Clothing with Purpose program, she knew she had found a solution! Clothing with Purpose collects, sorts, stores, and redistributes new and quality used clothing and household goods to over 23 partner agencies committed to redistributing them at no cost. In short, PSMJax does everything UCOM and other direct service agencies distributing clothing struggle to do – storage, inventory management, and developing relationships with retailers and other donors. Mitchell met with PSMJax CEO Teri Ketchum, and a partnership was formed!
UCOM’s Resource Closet focuses on professional clothing for working caregivers. This has become their niche. “In our culture, our clients feel they have to look a certain way or dress a certain way to be taken seriously,” Mitchell explained. “This creates insecurity and causes them to spend emotionally. We help them over this hurdle by pulling fashionable, quality options from the PSMJax inventory.” A dedicated UCOM volunteer maintains a shopping list of client needs and goes to PSMJax weekly to “shop” for each client. Those clients return to UCOM where they try on and select clothing, matching handbags, accessories, shoes, ties, shirts, and more to complete 3-4 snappy professional outfits. Clients in the medical field can get several sets of scrubs, saving up to $30 per set. UCOM partners with The Giving Closet Project (GCP), another agency supported by PSMJax, to fill the clothing needs of children and youth. In addition to clothing, PSMJax provides UCOM with bedding, household goods, and products for elderly clients.
“When we do budget counseling with a family and are cheering them on to save an extra $20 a month, we love giving them opportunities to meet their needs with goods and services we can provide at low or no cost. It is difficult to ask them not to spend on certain needs without giving them an outlet to shift that budget item,” said Mitchell. Clothing from PSMJax fulfills a family’s clothing needs at no cost. Mitchell estimates the partnership with PSMJax saves UCOM $5,000 a quarter. “This allows us to add another needed support while focusing our energy and resources on building client relationships.”
Stories of relief and joy have emerged from the UCOM/PSMJax partnership. A wheelchair-bound client struggled to find affordable clothing that was easy on/easy off. The client explained to UCOM’s Resource Closet volunteer exactly what she needed, and a selection of appropriate items were pulled from PSMJax to meet her needs. Mitchell shared that the client was so thrilled with her new items, she tried them on and showed us why they made dressing/undressing so much easier. "Many items were high-end brands, and we were thrilled to be able to show her the market cost of what she was taking home,” Mitchell said.
Another client, a teacher, was told in a performance review that she needed to dress more professionally at work. The dress code for teachers also changed, and the jeans she often wore were no longer allowed. With no funds to supplement her wardrobe, she turned to UCOM. Her needs were put on the PSMJax shopping list, and within days, she was able to choose from a selection of appropriate work outfits.
PSMJax distributes over 300,000 items annually to over 23 partner agencies that redistribute it at no cost to approximately 60,000 recipients in northeast Florida, Palm Beach County, and various other countries. The goal is to connect those who have with those who need, and though they don’t physically put clothes into the hands of the needy, they secure and manage the inventory for dozens of organizations that do. Together we achieve what cannot be done alone and change lives in the process.
Sara Mitchell, Executive Director