Volunteers at the heart

  • Written by Joe Boyle

The threat of showers did not prevent a steady flow of shoppers who were looking for clothing and other items Monday afternoon at Neat Repeats Resale, 7026 W. 111th St., Worth.

Doreen Holford, who serves as the operations manager at the Worth location and at 9028 W. 159th St., Orland Park, was not surprised. Customers from the community and beyond often visit Neat Repeats for not only clothing, but dishes, silverware and other products.

But what pleases Holford the most is that money raised from the sale of items at the two shops goes to assist women and family members who have been victims of domestic abuse.

“I just coordinate schedules and help get items brought in,” said Holford, who has been associated with Neat Repeats for 16 years. “But it is the dedication of our volunteers that makes all this work. Many of them have been working for us for 27 years.”

Funds raised from purchased benefits benefit the Crisis Center for South Suburbia. The Crisis Center for South Suburbia is a non-profit community organization that provides emergency shelter and other services for individuals and families victimized by domestic violence. The Crisis Center has helped hundreds of women build a better life for themselves and their children.

But a major source of the funding for the Crisis Center comes from the Neat Repeats Resale stores. The impact of Neat Repeats is not lost on Holford.

“Without the sales from the Neat Repeats shops, we could not keep the Crisis Center open,” said Holford. “It is very important.”

And Holford, who has served in a management role the past 12 years for Neat Repeats, said the Worth location is of great importance. Holford and her husband have lived in Worth the past 30 years and have raised two children in the community. She was active in the PTA and other organizations while raising her kids.

It was that sense of community that drew Holford to Neat Repeats, which will be celebrating its 30 anniversary in November. Neat Repeats spent one year in Blue Island before moving to 111th Street in Worth, just across the street from the current location. Holford said that Neat Repeats has been at the present site in Worth for the past 27 years.

“The Worth location is very important to us,” said Holford. “We are a community-based and we wanted to stay in the community. Worth is a wonderful pace to raise families. We could not think of a better place to be.”

The origins of Neat Repeats date backs to over 30 years ago when the first location was an old farmhouse on the campus of Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, said Holford.

“That’s why this community is so important to us,” said Holford. “We have a long history here.”

Holford said due to the success of Neat Repeats in Worth, a second location was sought because a need had developed for assistance of domestic violence victims in the far south suburbs, which is why the Orland Park facility opened 11 years ago. Both facilities are about 4,000 square feet, according to Holford.

But it is through the efforts of the volunteers that the Neat Repeats Resale shops work. Holford said the list of volunteers fluctuates but there are usually about 200 who take part, 100 at each location. Volunteers work one five-hour shift a week. One of the responsibilities of the volunteers is help clients bring the clothing and other items in so that it can be cleaned and later put on display.

Holford said that volunteers are taught to be good listeners who often have to console customers who are victims of domestic abuse.

“I think everybody needs to know that domestic violence is prevalent in our society,” said Holford. “It is our job to help and give these people comfort.”

Neat Repeat’s client’s assistance program supplies the much needed clothes and other essential for women and their children. All items are supplied to them free of charge. Many clients leave their abusive situation with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. The volunteers at Neat Repeats said they are proud to provide this service for them.

Currently, Neat Repeats Resale shops are accepting fall and winter clothing through March 14. Residents are asked to call in advance for donations of 10 boxes or more. Tax donation receipts are provided.

Along with the list of volunteers, students from area schools and churches can fulfill community service hours. The students will work together with Neat Repeats volunteers to accomplish daily goals and provide good customer service to donors and customers.

Neat Repeats is open at both locations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. More information can be obtained by calling the Worth location, (708) 361-6860, or the Orland Park facility, (708) 364-7605.

The 24-hout hotline for the Crisis Center for South Suburbia is (708) 429-7233.

Holford believes that Neat Repeats will remain a fixture in Worth for years to come.

“They have really embraced us,” said Holford. “Over the years, they have been great to us. Every mayor has been a great help.”