SAN ANTONIO – The right fit can make all the difference and a local nonprofit is providing free, new clothes and shoes to at-risk youth in our area with hopes of inspiring them to feel more confident at school and around friends.
Cathy Hamilton started San Antonio Threads in 2016 out of her garage. She now operates the nonprofit store, with a boutique-style look, in the 10400 block of Sentinel Street on the near Northeast Side.
“We’re set up to give that real experience with fitting rooms and mannequins and current trends. Many of the kids will say, we didn’t think the community cares about us, we can’t believe someone did this for us,” said Hamilton. “It’s something that you’ll be proud to wear and that’s what we want to do. We want them to know we do care.”
A 2019 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures showed up to 80 percent of children in foster care have mental health issues or trauma. Hamilton has seen what wearing new clothes can do for a teen’s mental health and well being.
“You feel good about yourself, you’re confident. And then you can just focus on your studies, school, having your friends and you’re just like everybody else,” said Hamilton.
San Antonio Threads served just over 3,500 youths for back-to-school this year and it’s not just clothing and shoes that are offered at the store. They have hygienic products for boys and girls. Hamilton said they expect to serve an estimated 15,000 youths this year.
“We’ve helped kids get jobs so they can get their business casual outfit and they can get their job,” said Hamilton. “So many kids coming into foster care wear the wrong size shoe. But new clothes, they’re the right size, they fit. They make you stand a little taller.”
As another form of therapy, Hamilton asks each person that visits San Antonio Threads to write a note answering the question: where will your news clothes take you? Hamilton said many responses she has received are signs of hope.
“So many kids say thank you for giving me my fresh start, thank you for being nice to us. Another note read, all clothes have bad memories, but new clothes can give me good memories,” said Hamilton.