Returning Wardrobe: Non-profit giving formerly incarcerated citizens a fresh outlook on life

It’s not just the clothes at the 'Wardrobe' that are getting a second chance.  

When you’ve got some fresh threads you go out into the world and you feel like you have the confidence to be whoever you want to be.

Gregory Mitchell is the literal poster child for the Returning Wardrobe program. He went from having his mug shot taken years ago to being the face of the ad campaign for the Returning Wardrobe.

"I was trying to get back in the ropes of going to interviews and the one problem I had was that I didn’t have the attire to go with the interviews," Mitchell said.

With the help of the Wardrobe, Mitchell nailed the interview and got a steady job. He’s got a fresh look to match his new outlook.

"People usually think you can just come from being incarcerated and do things on your own," Mitchell said."Sometimes it’s okay to get a little bit of help."

Helping people who are justice involved has been a perfect fit for Anthony Johnson for 20 years.

"I got started when my brother was incarcerated in and out," Johnson said. "Working with him he would come home and not have much of anything."

As the Wardrobe Re-entry Program Manager he helps people with job placement, healthcare, and drug counseling. He sees working with the Wardrobe as a perfect match.

"70% of individuals that are coming home from prison don’t have clothes other than what’s on their back," Johnson said. "When they were incarcerated they came from impoverished neighborhoods and they are coming right back to those neighborhoods. When you see individuals help one another without looking for anything in return, it gives them hope."

The Wardrobe nonprofit has provided clothing for people in need for 25 years. They take good quality donated clothes and sell them in the store and offer them for free to people in need.

Executive Director Sheri Cole said they’ve been in talks with the Department of Corrections and legislators for years about formally partnering up to create the Returning Wardrobe pilot program in Philly with a hopes to eventually expand it statewide.

"Our goal is to help any formally justice involved person who’s out there needing help," Cole said. "You can come through a referral through a social service network. A parole officer, a case manager, the court system.  Or if you’re within 5-6 years of release and you still need help getting on your feet call us or go online and you can make your own appointment."

 January 28th they are having their big fundraiser event.  

To donate or learn more about the program click here or visit one of their shops.



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