Inside Carolyn’s Closet
Whether she’s preparing and serving dinner at Evergreen Vista’s monthly resident meeting, organizing an outreach program or helping new residents get involved with the services their community has to offer, Carolyn Walker is always busy.
The Evergreen Vista neighborhood is home to more than 475 residents in Olympia, Wash. Carolyn and many other individuals and families living at Evergreen Vista were at one point homeless, coming to the property with as little as the clothing on their back.
“Homelessness is a test I do not wish on anybody,” said Carolyn. “Unless you’ve been through it, you just can’t understand.”
It is exactly that understanding combined with her big heart and giving spirit that gave Carolyn the inspiration to get involved with Evergreen Vista’s house wares and furniture donation bank. The program was started several years ago by Intercommunity Mercy Housing Resident Services staff and community members. Carolyn started running the program in 2003 and it was given the name Carolyn’s Closet.
Whether a person simply needs a few pots and pans or is starting over entirely, Carolyn’s Closet is a place where people in need can find anything from kitchenware to a new dresser.
“These people don’t need to justify or explain anything to me, “said Carolyn. “I already know what they need. I understand.”
Carolyn’s Closet benefits not just those who live in the 156 units in the Evergreen Vista neighborhood, but the entire surrounding county. All the items in Carolyn’s Closet have been donated and are available free of charge to residents and community members in need. Special consideration is given to people who are making the transition from homelessness.
“In my mind, the most important quality a person can have is caring about other people. That is the hallmark of Carolyn,” said Paul Grudis, Resident Services Coordinator at Evergreen Vista. “She notices other people’s needs right away.”
To read more about Mercy Housing’s work throughout the nation, check out our latest issue of News from Our Neighborhoods.