Mobile Menders Volunteer Mending: 501(c)3

It all started with a zipper. I volunteered at a work event to do mending in April of 2017. The event was part of our Earth Week events and was held at Union Gospel Mission in St. Paul, MN. Over the course of four hours I and other volunteers mended clothes for people from the surrounding businesses and residents of Union Gospel Mission. 

You never think that your life will change with a single interaction. You read about other people having it happen to them, but never in your wildest dreams do you think it will happen to you.

Then a man came up to the table. Jim approached the table with two items. A bathrobe with a ripped seam and a jacket with a shredded zipper. I told him I could easily fix the bathrobe, but the jacket would take longer. For one, I didn't have a zipper with me and second, I couldn't repair it in the time remaining. However, I told him, I'd be happy to take it home with me, fix it, and return it in a couple of weeks. I told him I would need to buy a zipper first. Jim looked at me and said, you'd do that for me? I said sure, it wasn't a problem. Jim wrote his name and cell number on a piece of paper and tucked it one of the jacket pockets. Before he walked away from the table he said again, you'd really do that for me? Fix the zipper and bring the jacket back? Then it hit me. To me it was a $3 zipper and an hour of my time. To Jim, it was $3 and maybe his only $3 until his next paycheck or having bus fare to get to his job. 

Two weeks had gone by and I purchased the zipper and replaced it in Jim's jacket. I called him and we met in the parking lot where I work. It was a gorgeous day in May, the sun was out and the temperature was cool.  I told him that I replaced the zipper, but it wasn't perfect, but it zipped. He started to tear up and he told me that the jacket had never zippered since he owned it, as it was donated. He asked if he could give me a hug and I said yes. Then Jim proceeded to tell me that tonight was his first sober league softball game and he could finally wear his favorite jacket. He thanked me again, turned and walked away. 

That interaction in the parking lot with Jim was the point where I knew my life would never be the same again. Something as simple as a zipper to me was in turn so huge to Jim. I knew that there were more people out there that had clothes that needed mending and it was a huge obstacle to them. 

Mobile Menders was born May 2017.

My idea of helping out a few places with mending and sewing has overnight, blossomed into something that can have the potential to help hundreds, if not eventually thousands of people in need around the Twin Cites area. 

This has left me in a unique and wonderful position, but short when it comes to financially paying for things now that Mobile Menders has taken off. This is where you come in. 

How can you help? By donating to Mobile Menders to help cover the cost of various items. Mobile Menders is an official 501(c)3 non-profit.

Technology fees: The current website platform is at capacity (free) and we need more storage space for photographs.   Social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram). Being able to boost posts to achieve maximum exposure and awareness.

Administrative fees: Copies of handouts for volunteers, informational handouts to prospective organizations and misc. office supplies.

Marketing fees: Updated business cards with the new web address. Additional tabletop signs to identify Mobile Menders at multiple mending/sewing events. Pins for the volunteers to wear to identify them as volunteers with Mobile Menders.

Transportation: Michelle gave up her car 5 years ago and has been using the bus to get back and forth. It has not posed a problem until recently. Some of the organizations that she would like to meet with are not easily accessible by bus. An alternative would be to use Uber or Lyft as a temporary fix. 

Misc. fees: Identification tags to help identify clothing items for residents that are unable to return to pick up their clothes. We will often leave them in the front office at the facility. Refreshments for multiple volunteer meet and greet events and idea gathering meetings. 

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) article and interview

MPR Article

Website: Mobile Menders 

"Sewing mends the soul"

Thank you!

Michelle Ooley
Founder/Executive Director
Mobile Menders


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Michelle Ooley 
Saint Paul, MN
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