The CBS Women’s Networking Group (WNG) in partnership with the CBS News Employee Council hosted a Holiday Boutique at Safe Horizon this holiday season. Safe Horizon is the nation’s leading victim’s assistance organization. Their mission is to provide support, prevent violence, and promote justice for victims, their families, and communities. Being able to support the women at Safe Horizon who have been through unimaginable trauma and abuse was an honor.
The idea came out of a steering committee meeting in October 2018, where we discussed ways to give back to women in our communities and make the holidays meaningful for them. Creating a boutique at a women’s shelter was an idea that we could all agree on.
Over a span of 8-weeks, a small planning committee executed this project in two-parts. Part 1 was the clothing drive and Part 2 was creating an actual boutique. Members of the committee consisted of: Alice Chaung (CBS Interactive), Amanda Valentino (Showtime), Kydee Williams (CBS Corporate), Mary Kouw (CBS Corporate), Sherry Washington (CBS Corporate), Taisha Turpin (CBS Corporate), Talia Medina (CBS News), Teena Mobley (CBS Sports).
Our clothing drive was a company-wide initiative, where donations collected were used in our boutique. We estimate that over 200-boxes of clothes, shoes outerwear and accessories were collected. Throughout the month of November, volunteers helped to sort donations, whenever they had down time, for feasible organization on the day of the shop.
On December 11, 2018, everyone involved in creating the Holiday Boutique at Safe Horizons, knew how important their role was. We were there to encourage these women who escaped abuse of all kinds. Our sole job was to exude positivity and maintain a welcoming atmosphere. Once the clothes and decorations were in place, it was time to open up shop. Volunteers greeted the women as they entered, with shopping bags, cupcakes and beverages. Some volunteers babysat the children, giving their mother’s freedom to browse and shop. Other volunteers served as personal stylists and inventory clerks. The faces of the women completely illuminated as they began to find brand new suits for job interviews and boots and coats for the winter. My CBS colleagues and I were all humbled by how appreciative they were. We learned that most of the women fleeing domestic violence situations left their homes with just the clothes on their backs.
All donations that were not taken during the boutique, were left at Safe Horizons for tenants who could not make it or for future tenants. We had a surplus of donations that we were able to donate to other organizations including: Safe Horizons sister shelters, The Pop-Up Care Shop at CAMBA Broadway House Women’s Shelter in Brooklyn, Bethany Baptist Church in Queens, and PRAXIS Housing Initiative, who serves HIV/AIDS victims.
The experience was truly heartwarming. We were there to encourage the women, but they in turn encouraged us.