“Calling is where your burden and talent collide,” recites Jody Powers, founding Executive Director of Amelia’s Closet, quoting Rebecca Lyons after having just recently read one of her books. This quote has personally resonated with Jody because “even though I don’t have an educational background in any of this—experiences from the past and the talents I do have has helped me to pull all of this together with the help of a lot of people.”
Amelia’s Closet is about hope. In fact, the very name Amelia means hope and the Murfreesboro-based organization calls itself the “Clothier of Hope.” This is a hope for women in need of a second chance, women whose bad decisions or lack of confidence have kept them from being who they were truly meant to be.
So, Amelia’s Closet provides that opportunity, as Jody puts it, to “give women a second chance at making a great first impression” by providing interview clothing and a working wardrobe to women either seeking employment or promotion, but without the right clothing to land the job. Women who walk through Amelia’s doors have to be referred, in financial need and seeking employment.
Amelia’s most recent demographics show that the average woman coming in is a 42-year-old single parent of one child; 47% have been incarcerated, 27% have a college degree, 43% have some college education.
“So, it’s not just the chronically homeless, it’s those that have been a victim or made a bad decision,” Powers said. Seventeen percent have fled domestic violence situations where they left with nothing.
“We’ve had a few whose spouses passed away and they hadn’t worked in 10 years because they were raising their kids, and now they’re starting over. We’ve had three clients that had house fires and lost everything and needed something before insurance reimbursed them for their items and clothing,” said Jody, describing the varieties of ladies that Amelia’s helps. Amelia’s Closet has assisted women ranging from 17 to 73, so the clothing styles can vary.
Jody also connects with many of these women on a level that is much more personal. Growing up in a military family, moving every three years was the norm; being the new girl in a new place, feeling out of sync with the way everyone else spoke and dressed, left her sensitive to others who may feel the same way. In fact, it was this sensitivity that led to Jody’s burden and the creation of her ministry three years ago, after seeing women come to her church from the jail ministry.
“I would see these ladies at church dressed like they were . . . being so insecure to even shake your hand because [they were aware] their clothes didn’t fit right [or look appropriate] . . . so I thought, ‘Who is helping them with clothes for interviews if this is how they’re dressed for church?’”
It was out of this sense of kinship that Amelia’s Closet was born.
For Jody, the biggest surprise to result from Amelia’s Closet has been the reaction within the nonprofit community.
“The community has been more receptive and encouraging than I initially anticipated, but I think the biggest thing is as far as the community goes, all the nonprofits around here, although we’re all competing for funding everybody is here to help everybody.”
Jody continues, stating, “They are so willing to help and not be stingy with their knowledge or time or resources. Greenhouse has probably been the biggest help. The Sharps, Jane and Cliff Sharp, have been my nonprofit mentors and have helped through Greenhouse by donating furniture, interns’ time [and] answering questions as I’m learning.”
For more information on how you can donate, refer someone to or receive help from Amelia’s Closet, visit ameliascloset.org or call 615-584-9029.