YWCA to open used clothing store


Special to the Sun-Gazette

In the eight months or so I’ve been working at the YWCA Northcentral Pennsylvania, I find myself feeling more and more like a part of history. I say cheesy things like “if these walls could talk” and try to imagine how formally-dressed women survived hot summers in this building without air conditioning.

I recently discovered some long-forgotten, dusty trophies tucked away in a storage closet. Peeking out was a little golden girl, with a broken softball bat over her shoulder. She’s been standing that way since she was awarded to the Newberry Sluggers in 1948, as champions of the YWCA softball league.

Every day, I walk past photos highlighting the history housed in these four walls. My favorite features formally-attired ladies laughing and clapping in November 1955, as they ceremoniously burnt the mortgage for this building.

We work in offices that were once kitchens (mine still features a porcelain sink and a long-abandoned dumbwaiter) and make-shift theaters where countless children enacted original plays and ladies taught classes.

The cupboards and closets house antique silver services and china dishware. We use the same tables originally used in the 1930’s public lunchroom on a daily basis. History is a tangible, incredible part of this facility.

This month, this building begins a new chapter and I have to believe that the women who strived to create this special place would proudly approve of the contemporary use of their facility. We have harnessed the same ingenuity and dedication they employed and we truly are proud of this adventure.

On Wednesday, we officially open The Boutique – a second-hand women’s clothing store focusing on higher-quality professional wear.

Open to the public, 100 percent of the profits will directly benefit homeless women and children and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through Liberty House and Wise Options.

The Boutique already is beginning to take shape. We’ve left the room virtually untouched. Ornate chandeliers light the space and carved woodwork surrounds the perimeter.

As donations for The Boutique pour in, I find myself thinking about history once again. A bag of clothing can be a treasure chest.

Full-length fur coats, leather pants and costume jewelry halt us in our tracks. “Who was this lady and what was her story?” we ask each other while choosing what items we will sell. Items we are unable to use are passed along to other nonprofit organizations that sell second-hand clothing to support their programming.

Now the invitation is open. Come to the YWCA and take a moment to pause and feel the history reverberating through these halls. While you’re here, check out The Boutique and help the YWCA remain a beacon of hope for another 120 years.