By Michelle Ooley

Imagine you were fighting homelessness, had two pairs of pants, and one was ripped or had a broken zipper. Sometimes it is the littlest details that can be hard to accept or overcome.

I’ve always loved to put things together. I am a self-taught sewer who learned from reading blogs and watching videos. Learning how to replace a zipper pull was intimidating, but I watched several YouTube videos until I knew how to fix them. 

I also love to repurpose items. My garden is sprinkled with things that once had a previous life. For me, sewing repairs are like a big puzzle that restores purpose to the life of an object.

After volunteering at a Fix-It Clinic through work during Earth Week in April 2017, I realized how much clothing we saved from going into landfills — 136.5 pounds of clothing were mended in four hours. Not only could I see how easy it was for me to help our environment, but I liked the feeling of positively impacting another person simply by helping them get pants hemmed, holes in jeans patched, torn pockets mended.

This is how Mobile Menders was born. 

Mobile Menders holds 8 to 12 mending events a month all over the Twin Cities. Since our inception in June 2017, Mobile Menders has saved approximately 365 pounds of clothing from landfills. 

Because I knew the need was there for services among the homeless population, I reached out to Union Gospel Mission and Salvation Army in St. Paul. The response was so successful it led to volunteer work with other homeless organizations.

We have grown to more than 180 volunteers, women and men, and will gladly accept more. Our volunteers include high school students, professionals, senior retirees. A few volunteers are expert quilters who reached out to House of Charity, where they go twice a month to teach hand quilting to groups of women and men.

Volunteer sewers need to have basic sewing skills, but don’t need to sew with a machine. If you don’t know how to sew, you can volunteer as a greeter. Greeters must be able to welcome people of all backgrounds to our event. 

Our typical event has up to 12 volunteers. We gather around a conference room table, in a lobby, or in a community room, and set up our sewing machines. We encourage those getting clothes mended to sit and talk with us. 

Building that feeling of community is as important to us as getting that button replaced. 

The people we serve matter, and their clothes matter.


FIND GREEN GUIDE HERE