Fashion can make a powerful impact on people. The right clothes can make you feel more confident, increase your self-esteem and improve your mood. A police officer in Oregon is harnessing that power to help local women and build a bond with the community.
Officer Michel Wilson joined the Beaverton Police Department 10 years ago, and she loves her job.
“It’s not just a place that you get lost or are a number — you actually get to know who you’re working with and that’s what makes coming to work every day so much fun,” she told KOIN-TV.
She also has a love for fashion. She spends her days decked out in her standard blue uniform, but knows how to spice things up when she gets the chance.
“I love wearing dresses or skirts and bright colors and fun things like that,” she said. “It really makes me feel good.”
She knew there were others in the community who felt the way she did, and she realized she could do something to help them. She enlisted the help of some like-minded colleagues and began taking donations of clothes from residents and giving them to local charities.
The project started small five years ago, with a handful of people collecting donations in Wilson’s basement. It was popular and quickly started to grow. First, it spread from Wilson’s basement into her garage. Then, it started taking up most of her backyard with no sign of slowing down. When it became obvious she needed some help to keep it growing, she knew exactly where to turn.
“And then it got to the point where we got really excited about this and we thought, ‘you know, we can make our own clothing closet for people to come in,’” Wilson said. “And so, we actually partnered with the department since we all work here and actually have been able to host our party at the department for the first time in 2019.”
Since its expansion with the help of the department, the project is now called the Ladies in Blue Clothing Closet. The project has become so popular that it’s grown beyond merely secondhand clothing. People often buy new clothes just to donate them to the less fortunate.
“I think everyone should have that opportunity to have an outfit that just makes them feel super confident and excited and feel good about themselves,” Wilson said.
The project has been a hit in more ways than one. It not only has brought some light to the life of people who need it, but it’s also helped put a positive face on the department within the Beaverton community.
“We want to go out and help our community members, and I feel like this is just another way that we can really impact the women in our community,” Wilson said. “And, like I said, give them that great outfit on maybe a bad day.”
Wilson and two other officers will continue to collect donations in the coming months, and the Ladies in Blue Clothing Closet will open its doors in the fall to several organizations in need. Organizations that will take part include: low-income students in the Beaverton School District; HomePlate Youth Services; the Hawthorn Center, which provides urgent care services; the Domestic Violence Resource Center; Salvation Army Veterans Shelter; Union Gospel Shelter; Camp Rosenbaum, a nonprofit that provides opportunities for low-income youths; and the Beaverton Sobriety Opportunity for Beginning Recovery.
Officer Wilson understands that the scope of her project isn’t massive, but she’s turning her personal passion into a positive force in the community and making a difference.
“Clothes aren’t going to change the world,” Wilson said. “The women who are wearing them are.”
As seen in the May issue of American Police Beat magazine.
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