The Kindness Closet is a place to find thrifted items and handmade items, but it’s also a resource hub.
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Courtney Figler, a social worker by trade, is the founder of the Kindness Closet. In her work, she encountered many people who’d dealt with the criminal justice system but also other societal issues.
“I’ve been volunteering and doing community work since I was a child,” she said.
“When I was working clinical and doing mental health support with folks, which is extremely important, I was finding a lot of my clients didn’t have jobs or they were unhoused and what they needed was money.”
So, she opened a bright pink boutique known as the The Kindness Closet, nestled quaintly in uptown Saint John.
All the items are thrifted or handcrafted and each item is curated by Figler.
“Behind the scenes, we work on programming that supports folks that are impacted by the criminal justice system and/or poverty,” she said in an interview on Sunday.
While the boutique has been giving out free clothing to those in need, recently surpassing 1,500 pounds of clothing, it will officially launch free clothing every Monday on Aug. 14.
It also will start an upcycle program.
“The fall will be phase one,” she said. “We’re going to be training people to learn how to sow and make clothing and the ultimate goal is to make stuff to sell in the shop.”
For her, it’s about giving people the opportunity to excel and thrive.
In New Brunswick, the government has initiated construction of a new correctional facility and Figler said the crime and punishment cycle doesn’t help people move past the criminal justice system.
“People tend to put up walls, but when you meet people where they are at, truly meeting them where they’re at, and letting them have the time and giving them compassion you’ll find that they are good people,” Figler said.
She said correctional facilities do not really prevent further crime.
“A better future is possible,” she said. “We’re only getting there if we start treating people with compassion other than always trying to punish people.”
Figler said research shows post-incarceration employment reduces the rate of recidivism.
It’s part of what she hopes to accomplish by showing kindness through clothing. The boutique is funded through items and clothing purchased at the shop.
The Kindness Closet is open Wednesday through Sunday at 17 North Market Street.
Statistics Canada data shows crime is decreasing in N.B.
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