“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
With a goal of making Amy’s House — a shelter for victims of domestic violence opened in 1995 — a more self-sufficient entity, non-profit boutique Amy’s Closet was created and first opened in Denver, NC, in 2013.
Once a successful business model was in place, the group expanded with a location in Lincolnton in 2016. The Denver shop doubled in size in 2022, and both bustling boutiques — through the sales of donated women’s clothing, accessories, and housewares — have been successful enough in their own right to keep Amy’s House open 24/7, year-round, as a safe haven for families displaced by violence. The shelter provides the perfect transition domestic violence survivors need to recover, heal, empower themselves, and make life-changing plans for the future.
This devoted Amy’s Closet team has grown from four or five people, to about 100 volunteers — mostly women — who generously give anywhere from four hours a month of their time, to some who volunteer a few hours nearly every day. The store also provides clothing and household linens to domestic violence survivors, at no charge, to help them begin new lives.
Business Manager Skip Steele, appointed by the Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence Board, is undoubtedly the group’s biggest cheerleader, and an advocate for the donors, volunteers, and loyal customers who keep Amy’s Closet growing.
“My volunteer job is to serve our volunteer team,” explains Skip. “I report to them on how they’re doing, make sure they don’t run out of 13-gallon trash bags, haul off the trash, and pay the bills. They do all the work.”
Before the success of Amy’s Closet, the shelter had been able to operate only six to eight months out of the year, due to the varying distribution of grant money, based on a calendar year. Once supporters realized the smart solution was for LCCADV, already a 501(c)(3), to have its own self-funding money stream, one board member was inspired to launch the idea of the boutique. A total group effort in every sense of the word — where much was learned through persistence! — Amy’s Closet is the “face” and the outreach arm for LCCADV. Operated solely by volunteers, every dollar raised goes to support the private work of Amy’s House.
When year-round operations for the shelter landed in a stable position, the board allocated most of the income from Amy’s Closet towards building a new, larger, state-of-the-art shelter for local victims. With a new facility, the team looks forward to widening the scope of services they can offer. The mission of Amy’s House will always remain providing an alternative to life in a violent situation, and to offer educational resources that allow survivors to make healthier choices for themselves and their families.
On average, Amy’s House serves about 100 people each year, and roughly 70% of those are minor children. The staff provides safe shelter and recovery exclusively to individuals or families displaced from their homes by violence, including all essentials for daily living, and expertise for helping them safely rebuild their lives. Amy’s House also provides connections to other agencies who facilitate medical care, counseling, transportation, job assistance, legal advocacy, and ultimately, sustainable and safe housing.
As with any non-profit, the success of Amy’s Closet depends heavily on volunteers, who work at the boutiques as cashiers, cleaning crew, and the all-important task of sorting donated items, to prepare them for resale. Skip shares that many volunteers also “introduce” both Amy’s Closet and Amy’s House to their communities, churches, and clubs, broadening the group’s outreach and growing their network of supporters. (Look for a flower garden soon at the new shelter — the handiwork of a volunteer “Master Gardener” and her team of helpers!)
Besides the gift of your time, women’s clothing donations are accepted whenever the shops are open: Tuesday through Friday 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., and Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Amy’s Closet refers furniture donations to their partners at Furnish a Future with Helping Hands at Denver United Methodist Church, men’s goods to Hesed House, and children’s goods to Christian Ministries, Crisis Pregnancy, or Asbury Resource Center (ARC). Cash donations are always welcome at checkout, or you can donate by check or credit card at both shops, or by mail to P.O. Box 476, Lincolnton, NC 28092. There’s also a QR code that links to the group’s PayPal account.
There’s no better time or reason to declutter your own closet — for an amazing reason! Amy’s Closet is located at 1584B NC Highway 16 Business in Denver, 704-483-5515, and at 202 S. Cedar St in Lincolnton, 704-240-3688. Learn more at Lincolncounty-CADV.org.