LA GRANGE, Ill. — It started with a small group of friends collecting items for a domestic violence shelter, but with little storage space and donations pouring in, they decided to open a resale shop to support the shelter. Two and a half decades later, the shop is going strong with the proceeds supporting the shelters clients while dozens of volunteers help run the business. The Hope Chest is one of Chicago’s Very Own.
At first glance the resale shop in La Grange looks more like a fancy boutique. But the Hope Shop is more than an upscale shopping experience. It’s a means of survival for those seeking safety from domestic violence.
“Often times they do go in the middle of the night, they grab their kids and they’ve fled and they have nothing,” Sally Kurfirst, Hope Chest manager, he said.
The Hope Chest is there to provide. The shop accepts donations of clothing and housewares for resale. All of the proceeds benefit The Pillars Community Health Constance Morris House — an emergency 30 day shelter for domestic violence survivors.
“They cannot believe they can come here and select what they need and I just think it boosts their spirits and that’s what they need,” Kurfirst said.
The shop has just about everything you need, from clothing to handbags and accessories, and it’s all offered at an affordable price to customers.
“We get a lot of great merchandise and because its all donated we can price it at an affordable level,” Kurfirst said.
And if it’s not in their inventory, the Hope Chest will purchase items for clients at the shelter.
“When the woman move out of the shelter we buy them new housewares so they are getting a fresh start with new linens, and towels and kitchen supplies,” Kurfirst said.
Kurfirst was one of the original founders and says between clothing, houseware and monetary donations, the Hope Chest has donated more than $900,000 to the Constance Morris House and has served thousands of women. The store operates with the help of approximately 80 volunteers.
Kim Stephens is the director of the Constance Morris House.
“Our clients are coming from the worst possible scenario you can imagine,” Stephens said.
She said the help her clients have received from the Hope Chest goes beyond supplying the essentials.
“The love the kindness the support the compassion that is given to us from the chest to our clients is immeasurable,” Stephens said.
Kurfirst said clients often show their appreciation by donating items or coming back to shop.
“There is one woman that stands out in particular,” she said. “She has come in here a couple of times and told us that we changed her life.”
Kurfirst and her volunteer staff said the success of the store’s mission has been the all hands on deck approach.
“It is rewarding, and I couldn’t even tell you what I’m most proud of whether it’s the other people in the shop the customers, the volunteers the staff, how people work together,” she said.
And she says watching the shop grow and being able to continue helping others may be the most rewarding of all.
“Knowing that we are helping people in a situation that you know is incredibly difficult and to know we can make a difference and to be told we make a difference it all worth it,” Kurfirst said.
For more information about the Hope Chest or the Constance Morris House you can visit thehopechest.net.
Constance Morris House Domestic Violence Hotline: 708-485-5254