HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — Kari Schwear walks into Hilliard House with a collection bin, and what is in it has the power to make a difference to women staying at the emergency shelter.
“When a woman comes in experiencing homelessness, she already feels a loss of dignity there, so to be able to give her some beautiful things that will allow her to still feel feminine goes a long way in restoring dignity for her,” explains Elizabeth Teixeira.
Teixeira is a case worker with Housing Families First, which operates Hilliard House, along with a transitional housing and workforce readiness program. One of the greatest needs that many people do not think about is bras of all sizes.
“Seeing the women and the children and seeing what a difference this organization makes, and seeing the smiles on their face,” Schwear’s voice trails off. “The hurt, the pain and then the smiles that come out of that once they’re helped, and I just think to share that love for each other as humans is one of the best gifts we can give.”
Schwear, who works at Richmond Surgical Arts, recently learned bras are one of the least donated items at Hilliard House and other homeless and domestic violence shelters. She brainstormed a plan and called on patients at her office to help. So far, they have donated more than 300 bras, including a rare size that one woman at the shelter thought she would never find.
“She was able to get those donations, and really you could see a boost in her confidence. She was that grateful,” remembers Teixeira. “We want people coming through the doors to feel comfortable here, to feel respected here, and so building their confidence in that way helps us to achieve that goal.”
The bra drive is ongoing. Drop off gently-used bras of all colors, sizes and styles at Richmond Surgical Arts, 8720 Stony Point Parkway, Suite 100 in Richmond.