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Nonprofit yields safe homes, clothed kids

Employees at Protection 1 in Portland filled a large donation box bound for Hillsboro non-profit Foster Closet twice in two weeks.

“It’s a big box,” said Missy Wolfe, a foster parent who volunteers for the organization. “I could put my kid in it.”

She guessed that 6-year-old Kyle, a Jamaican boy she and her husband adopted three years ago, could play in the 4-foot-tall donation box that held a bike, a kids’ couch, baby supplies and new clothes and toys. by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Missy Wolfe and Tiffany Grenfell are working members of the Foster Closet board.

Protection 1 temporarily joined the network of Foster Closet drop-off sites, three of which are in Hillsboro, as part of the nationwide home security company’s first annual “All For 1 Day,” when employees at its 70-plus locations across the United States volunteered in their communities.

Operations manager Don Wolfe, Missy’s husband, and technician Eric Jacobson have 15 years of foster parenting among them, and know the hardships of providing for children who are not only growing, but relocating.

Amy Mevis became a foster parent seven years ago, and soon realized the need for clean, appropriate and low-cost kids’ clothing. Oregon had stopped its clothing voucher program for foster parents, so Mevis set up Foster Closet in her garage.

Foster parents and kids from Washington County picked clothes, shoes and other items from a Rubbermaid bin outside her house at no cost. Soon word spread, and the all-volunteer organization moved to a donated storefront off the Tualatin Valley Highway in 2010.

“It looks like a resale shop, but everything is free,” Mevis said of the store.

Families associated with Foster Care in Oregon browse racks and toy bins full of merchandise without price tags from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays. Newly-placed foster kids receive new socks and underwear purchased by the organization and delivered in a durable cloth bag.

Need for donations

Mevis said the shop is always in need of donations — regardless of season, size or style. Although the non-profit struggled at first, Wolfe said she is pleased with a recent upturn in volunteers and donations.

“The last year has been really good to Foster Closet,” she said. “At first, we weren’t sure we could keep the doors open for six months.”

Area churches and businesses have pitched in to run the shop and coordinate donations. The organization’s board grew from its original four to nine committed volunteers, including a leader of a satellite location in Tillamook.

Shane Hyland, general manager of Protection 1 in Portland, emphasized the value of supporting a grassroots cause in Washington County.

“As a business, you’re giving back directly to the community, to a truly local organization,” Hyland said.

Hyland and Wolfe agreed on Foster Closet as the branch’s “All for 1” charity after brainstorming more mainstream ideas.

“You know, homeless shelters or park cleanups; the typical stuff,” said Hyland.

Hyland believes the event connected employees to a Hillsboro cause, and envisions the partnership continuing.

“I’m hoping it opened employees’ eyes to this organization — it definitely did mine,” he said.

Wolfe, on the other hand, sees its benefits under his own roof in the many children who’ve come and gone since he and Missy became foster parents eight years ago. Don guessed they’d fostered at least 15 kids in that time.

“There’s a wall in our family room with a photo of every kid who’s stayed here — for a day or for years,” he said. “I can tell you that wall is full of pictures, just full.”

More than his house has filled since becoming a foster parent.

“I have a 2003 Suburban that I love dearly that is always full of donated clothes,” said Wolfe.

But he added that his wife’s passion for children in foster care is incredible, and the hours she and other volunteers contribute make Foster Closet’s mission a success every day.



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