The Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society served over 23, 000 clients through all its programs last year.


The Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society served over 23, 000 clients through all its programs last year.

— Annual Report

Sandy’s Story

It was a hot summer day and a few minutes after 9:00 am, the conference room in the old house on Seymour Street, known as the E. Fry House, was full of women. Today was Community Closet day. Some ladies watched the clock, some drank coffee, and others nibbled on berries and bananas. All the amenities were generously provided by the E. Fry Society.

Outside this room, was the small foyer of E. Fry House, and there too, sat several women. They were patiently awaiting their turn to have a healthy snack and then head down into the rough and small basement of this old and worn 1920`s house, to hopefully find some gently used clothing, socks and sleepwear. Perhaps this time there would be new underwear, hygiene products, and some toiletries.

At first glance, the women all appeared the same except for their varying ages, hair styles, and type of attire. Some were chatting, some were laughing, and all were enjoying this free mini breakfast, which had been set out on a long table surrounded by comfortable chairs. However, each of the ten women had a hardship story hidden behind their smiles. Some women openly shared their heartaches and others were quiet, perhaps afraid to reveal their pains.

On this very warm Thursday morning, during a two hour period, several women did go home with bags and bags of various items. Each of them expressing to us how grateful they were to have this opportunity.

Then as the clock was ticking down and reaching closing time, a young 20ish female, with yellowish dirty hair tied up in pigtails, a little overweight, and wearing very worn slippers on her feet, came down into the basement begging us to stay open so that she could- maybe- hopefully- get something to wear other than the soiled, mismatched, and wrinkled pajamas she was currently wearing.

She relayed her story, with tears streaming down her face; of being thrown out of the apartment she had shared with her boyfriend of several months. She had no money and very little to eat. She had become pregnant and he didn’t want `it` or her any longer. The police had picked her up off the street and taken her to a local shelter. The shelter had given her taxi fare to come here and find more suitable clothes.

Her situation was tragic, yet it sounded fairly familiar to me as a volunteer, for I had heard many sad stories of women who had lost everything to theft, bad boyfriends, fire, or lost jobs. Also, some women who visit the Community Closet just can’t make their welfare cheques stretch enough to buy new clothes.

But this case tugged at my heartstrings. It was some time later, that she was calm again. We were able to outfit her with clothing, shoes, shampoo, and even a few baby items. She also took with her several bags of clothing. She seemed happier as she climbed the steps up out of the closet basement saying over and over again, `Thank you, thank you, thank you!`

By then, it was way past closing time for the closet, so I turned off the lights and I too climbed the wooden steps out of the basement, said goodbye to our receptionist, and out the door I went. I wiped my sweaty brown and brushed my silver haired bangs off my forehead, all the while, thinking that it had been quite a busy day. Over 200 pieces of clothing and other items had gone out to deserving and needy clients.

On my way to my car, I passed the front of the E. Fry house, and there she was again! She was sitting on the white, badly peeling, painted steps surrounded by the overflowing bags and bags of much needed clothing. She called out to me, `Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?`

I turned to look at her and smiled. She just needed a few more encouraging and reassuring words, I thought. She smiled back to me and said, `Thanks again, you know my life has been tough but what you`ve given me today has helped a lot. I want to do good for my baby, so thanks!` Then she hesitated and continued to say, `And you know, for a women of your age, you have really nice boobs!

I looked down at my chest, covered by a pink and now dirty t-shirt. `Thanks,` I said. Then, I started to laugh and so did she! We laughed and laughed. Then we gave each other a hug. I waved goodbye and again headed to my car.

As I drove home, I reflected on the morning`s events. A distraught young girl, in dire straights, had come into the Community Closet with tears of despair. She left with a smile on her face and perhaps hope in her hart. And again, I chuckled as I remembered her compliment to me. On this day, E. Fry had truly made a difference for her and for me!

Written by Sandy A.