Mobile Menders Volunteer Mending

$1,895 of $2,500 goal

Raised by 47 people in 14 months
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.

Mobile Menders was recently interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). The story generated a flurry of people to volunteer with Mobile Menders and various organizations have reached out to see if Mobile Menders could come to their facilities and provide mending services.

On 8/4/2017 Mobile Menders had 17 volunteers and as of 8/23/2017 we are at 107 volunteers. With this increased amount of volunteers it will allow Mobile Menders to hold multiple mending events  at various locations around the Twin Cites (MN) area every month. 

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 not yet a non-profit, so we do not have 501c3 status. We will eventually be filing for that, but need to raise funds in order to file.

Technology fees: The current website platform is at capacity (free) and we need more storage space for photographs. SignUp Genius is a free service we are using to help manage the volunteers and will need to upgrade to the paid version to accommodate the increased number.  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.

Trademark fees associated with trademarking our name.

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 (recycled kraft paper) 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. 

Mobile Menders is an all volunteer group of sewers and menders. They are dedicated to providing sewing and mending services to those in need in the Twin Cites area.

Imagine if you received a pair of pants, but they were too long or a pair of shorts that were missing a button. Now imagine if you were fighting homelessness and these were your only pair of pants or shorts and you had no idea how to get these repaired.  

What if you are trying to get back on your feet and in a recovery program, you have a job interview but the only pair of nice pants you have are ripped. 

A single mom with two kids trying to start over after leaving an abusive situation. Your kids have received donated clothes but they are too long.

This is where Mobile Menders come in. We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to have clothes that fit and are in good shape. Having a pair of pants and a shirt that fits increases your self esteem. 

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) article and interview

MPR Article

Website: Mobile Menders 

"Sewing mends the soul"

Thank you!
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Mobile Menders celebrated a year in June of 2018. I still can't believe it's been a year. Never did I imagine it would have taken off like it did.

In one year (June 2017-June 2018):
- 250 Volunteers
- Mended over 1,800 items
- Served over 900 people
- Saved over 2,450 of clothing/textiles from our landfills

I'm excited for what 2019 holds. We have several new groups and organizations that are excited to schedule events with us in the new year. We have a pilot program with Hamline Elementary starting towards the end of October 2018. We will be providing free mending to the students and their families.

We couldn't do all this important work without all your help and donations. I just filed our articles of incorporation paperwork and will start working on our 501c3 in two weeks.

Thank you for your continued support!

Michelle Ooley
Mobile Menders
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I end 2017 feeling very grateful and humbled by the outpouring of support that's been shown to Mobile Menders. It's still hard to wrap my head around the fact that I started Mobile Menders a little over six months ago with 17 volunteers and I am now at 151. In addition, we are providing free mending services to 14 different groups and organizations, with more on the horizon. I am excited for 2018!
Thank you,
Michelle Ooley
Founder, Mobile Menders
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It is hard to believe that it's been six months since I started Mobile Menders. When I started, I had 17 volunteers and two organizations we were helping. Fast forward and I'm now at 146 volunteers and 13 organizations and groups we are helping. The outpouring of support has been amazing. I am excited to see where 2018 takes Mobile Menders.
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The power of a purple button. You're thinking to yourself, how does a purple button have any power? I witnessed firsthand last night how a two purple buttons brought a grown man to tears. Tears of joy because his favorite shirt that he'd had for years and was missing two purple buttons, was finally repaired. He had held on to that shirt hoping he would once again be able to wear it. Last night was that night.

The power of two purple buttons turned this mans whole day around. I knew nothing of his struggles, but I knew that purple shirt mattered to him greatly. I did learn he had worked in the automobile industry and was a proud veteran. A table full of sewers and volunteers that night saw nothing but a man who had proudly served his country and so desperately wanted to wear his favorite shirt again.

So, if you think one person can't make a difference, I beg you to think again. Because I witnessed it firsthand last night.

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$1,895 of $2,500 goal

Raised by 47 people in 14 months
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