Linda recalls how it all began; “My daughter, Lindsay was 14 and needed to do community service hours for High School, although she was homeschooled. She decided she wanted to give away her clothes to girls in need as a way of letting them know they were loved and special. As her mom, I didn’t think giving away her own clothing would be the best way to go… I also, thought she just wanted to buy new clothes. However, I was wrong. Her heart was genuine. That was 10 years ago…We began collecting gently used clothing and within about a week we had 70 huge garbage bags of clothing in our house. We worked with Pastor Doug [Sauder], who at the time was the president of 4KIDS. Pastor Doug invited us to set up a little store on a yacht where he was inviting some foster girls to come to a Christmas Party. That night was the launch of God using beautiful clothing to touch the hearts of hurting teenage girls. It was the launch of the mission of Taylor’s Closet. 4KIDS and Calvary Chapel then offered us space in the 4KIDS offices where we set up shop and began to minister to foster girls. Pastor Doug couldn’t believe how much the foster girls were deeply affected by the clothing. We loved being in the 4KIDS space and even today feel like they are family. We spent two years in that space and then Christ Church offered us the use of a 4200 square foot space on their Pompano campus that they didn’t have any use for. We spent two years, and $350,000 to renovate the space to a beautiful, upscale boutique that today sees over 150 girls a month. We still give out clothing, but we have moved much more into mentoring. We have four programs that all lead into each other…taking a girl one year to go through all of them.”
From hurting to healing
Taylor’s Closet has helped many girls over the past ten years, but one girl really stood out. Linda said, “I met a girl about 3 years ago that was cutting herself so badly that I too was overwhelmed. Instead of turning her away, I decided I would work with her on a weekly basis. I really didn’t have any idea what I was going to do, as I am not a counselor. I only pull from my experience of being a mom and from Jesus. So as we met weekly, we just hung out and talked. I found out that she was sexually abused by her father, whom had died and she was having a difficult time dealing with those wounds. Cutting somehow made her feel something, even though it was pain. She also had no desire to dress nice as she was trying to hide all of her cuts. She always came to our meetings with dirty hair, no makeup, big oversized clothing where you could see no skin at all. I met with her for 10 weeks, we talked and prayed and I simply did nothing except love on her. After 10 weeks I felt it was time to allow her to go into a group setting and participate in our weekly mentoring program, Awaken. She showed up, hair done, makeup, high heels and scars showing. She stopped cutting the day we started to meet and four years later….she’s never, ever cut again. She will graduate from high school this year and will go off to college to study music.”
The future is bright
Taylor’s Closet thrives through the support of the community. They receive financial aid from local companies and clothing from ten different designers. They’re always looking for church partners and volunteers to help. Taylor’s Closet has helped over twelve thousand girls, an average of 150 per month. Its previous success suggests a bright future. They’ve been at that space for eight years now and are currently looking for a new space to fit their expanding ministry. “Our plans are to continue to mentor as many girls as we can,” said Linda. “We are looking for a new space with approximately 5000 square feet of space in Ft. Lauderdale so we are more centrally located. We will always have a store where girls can come shop and participate in our four programs. In addition, we have great relationships with about 10 agencies here in South Florida that also work with hurting teenage girls. They refer the girls to us.
“I’m also very excited about partnering with Ft. Lauderdale High School,” said Linda. “About a year ago the Lord told me to start working with high schools. I think kids have way too much pressure on them today, especially girls. I have a deep burden to work with the girls in high-schools and help them understand how special they are and to begin to dream about the plans God has for them. We started working with them a year ago and have seen 20 of their girls go through our programs. That’s just a small test….they have about 1.000 girls in their school. Our plans are to continue to work with Ft. Lauderdale High School and partner with them to be able to work more closely with the girls and bring our programs to the school. Possibly a mobile store! We are looking for a big delivery truck, and possibly a Club that meets weekly. We are currently working out all the details to put that in place by 2017.”
All of this is a way for them to expand their mission and take it to the community. “What better place than a major public high school right here in S. Florida?” asked Linda. “Our high school girls need us, and we want to help them understand how special and valuable they are. No matter what has happened to them God has a beautiful destiny for each of them.”
Gabriella Morris is a home school student and writer at Good News. She can be reached at [email protected].