Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pajamas, pajamas, pajamas

"I always tell the women, "It's the pajamas!" — Sister Charla, Executive Director of New Beginnings

MOST OF YOU probably know that I started a charitable non-profit called Helen's Pajama Party to Protect Women. Every year we — and by we, I mean all of the kind people who donate new sleepwear, faithful volunteer Mary Menke, and me — keep managing to supply Iowa domestic violence shelters with enough new pajamas and nightgowns so that every woman who seeks refuge has a new gown or pair of PJs waiting for her.

Because we supply 20-plus shelters sprinkled across 56,271 square miles of Iowa, when the State Legislature is in session, I enlist senators and representatives to help ferry pajamas back to shelters in their districts since they generally travel back home on weekends.

Helen's used to supply a year's worth of sleepwear at one time to each shelter, but that meant shelters were in the position of running out of pajamas in particular sizes or running out altogether before the next delivery a year later. Now we fill orders all year long for shelters as they get low on a size or season of sleepwear. This year our legislative couriers were:

Representative Dennis Cohoon from Burlington
Representative Ron Jorgensen from Sioux City
Representative Mary Mascher from Iowa City
Representative Pat Murphy from Dubuque
Senator Amanda Ragan from Mason City
Representative Phyllis Thede from Davenport

Here's the text of a note I got in the mail today from Sister Charla, the nun who is the executive director of New Beginnings shelter in Dubuque. She just received her latest delivery of pajamas.

 Dear Kelly,

What fun after Representative Murphy dropped off the pajama boxes! Reading the Helen's Pajama Party cards on each was awesome! My staff was all but speechless! Truly what got dropped off here at New Beginnings is more powerful at starting the healing than anything any of us could do for a victim when she walks into our shelter. I love seeing a woman the morning after her first night here. Just this morning a new guest said to me, "I hated the idea of staying at a shelter, but I walked in here and suddenly I felt the warmth and the concern. I slept, and I felt so protected." I always tell the women, "It's the pajamas!"

We can't imagine all the work this project demands. But don't stop. This is for us the best way to start a "New Beginning."

With love and gratitude,
Sister Charla and Staff

Click here to learn more about Helen's Pajama Party.

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