Released 17 July 2012
"Anita's Closet" Provides Love, Support, and Dignity to Domestic Violence Survivors
Domestic Violence Shelter & Nike Renovate Clothing Closet to Honor Long-time Volunteer's Legacy
(July 2012) Pants, shirt, and shoes - a simple outfit that most people take for granted. At The Salvation Army West Women's and Children's Shelter, many of the women come to the shelter without even that, wearing hospital clothes or sweats. It is this basic human need that Anita Brackensick dedicated her life to providing for the women at this Portland domestic violence shelter. After decades of bringing new and used clothing to the shelter, organizing the clothing room, and helping women pick out new clothes, Anita lost her 3 year fight with ovarian cancer. Her legacy lives on at the West, though, in a new clothing closet, appropriately named "Anita's Closet." This new clothing closet was made possible by a special team of Nike employees who spent weeks procuring supplies and hanging clothes, all in honor of Anita.
The Salvation Army West Women's & Children's Shelter is a place for women and children who are fleeing domestic violence to come for support, encouragement, and guidance. Many come straight from the hospital or have left their home with little or nothing. Anita initially identified the need for a clothing closet in 1988 when she noticed that most women did not have much when they came to the shelter. Since then, Anita and her husband, Allan, have been weekly volunteers at the shelter.
"Anita's hope for the clothing closet was to make it inviting, welcoming, and supportive as it is oftentimes the first place a woman went to after coming to the shelter," said Fay Schuler, Director at the West.
Anita came in every Monday and worked in the clothing closet. Sometimes she would be at the West all day and into the night working on the closet and helping women pick out clothes. When she was in the hospital receiving treatments, Allan would come in her place, and to this day, Allan still comes in almost every Monday morning and helps where he is needed. "I promised her I would continue on, and I am," said Allan.
"We wanted to remember Anita for all of her work at the West," said Fay, "and so we thought naming the clothing closet after her would be a wonderful tribute to an amazing woman." The project received wings to fly after Fay, who presented at a luncheon at Nike, connected with Dale Grealish, a Nike employee. Dale, interested in the shelter, took a tour and was moved to work on the closet.
She pulled a team of Nike employees together to take on this project. They were able to secure donations from Nike stores from across the country and utilized shelving, hangers, and clothing to completely renovate the room into a welcoming closet allowing women to "shop" for their clothes. The team painted the room as well as hung a picture of Anita outside.
Allan stopped by the shelter and visited the renovated clothing closet, which was completed June 11, 2012. He said, "the room looks great, but I just want to make sure the women have what they need; that is what Anita wanted. I just wish we didn't need domestic violence shelters in our society." When asked how he felt about "Anita's Closet," Allan stated, "If her legacy lives on for 100 years, that'd be nice. I am happy that they have recognized the work she started, and I know Anita would be happy to see what has happened here."