Patti Reik’s last dream is becoming a dream come true for struggling Gracewood moms like Danyell Washington.
“One of the biggest financial stresses in my life is having appropriate clothes for my family and me – clothes for job interviews and to wear to work and school and regular clothes for when my children grow and seasons change,” said Danyell.
Thanks to Patti, who passed away in 2012, a boutique-like shop called “Patti’s Place” has been created in a small house located adjacent to Gracewood’s Spring Branch campus. It is in this special place that moms like Danyell can find donated items such as clothes, shoes, accessories and more.
After Gracewood acquired the house in 2010, a small group of women called Martha’s Circle from Chapelwood Methodist Church, spearheaded by Patti, helped make the store possible.
“Since our first introduction to Gracewood, everything about the ministry resonated with our group. Gracewood is God’s perfect love coupled with His perfect timing in a safe haven for these women and children,” said Carrie Hoye, who serves on the church’s core giving team and now leads Martha’s Circle.
After being diagnosed with stage four cancer, Patti spent the last year of her life helping meet the needs of Gracewood moms and children. When she learned that the future boutique needed a washer and dryer, Patti sought donations to pay for it. She found an electrician to install the appliances and someone to help with drywall repair. After her mother moved into assisted living, Patti donated all the contents of her mother’s home.
Apart from her efforts on behalf of the boutique, when residents at Gracewood needed certain items, she advertised the need in Chapelwood’s newsletter and bulletins, then drove to donor homes to pick them up and deliver them to Gracewood.
“Patti refused to complain or allow herself to look or act sick,” said Melanie Pepper, Patti’s sister. “She knew how tough it was – from experience – to be a single woman, which is why she loved Gracewood’s mission. She truly taught us all how to die with dignity and grace.”
Gracewood became Patti’s passion and she worked tirelessly for the ministry for nearly a year until her death in September 2012.
“Patti wanted the boutique to be a place where Gracewood moms could escape the stress of their lives and just be a regular girl, shopping for nice things. She understood that a person’s confidence is tied in part to the way they can present themselves outwardly,” said Carrie. “She wanted to make sure these moms, who are heroes in so many ways for the choices they have made, would never feel ‘less than.’”
When Patti’s Place opened earlier this year, it quickly began to enhance the quality of life for Gracewood moms in residence and in aftercare.
“Having access to the resources to blend into society is a huge help. Just knowing the boutique is there when we need it brings such a sense of security to a single mom who has no time to shop,” said Danyell.
Patti’s Place is arranged beautifully with the clothes and shoes sorted by sizes, and many items are brand new. “Many non-profits offer these types of stores, but the atmosphere is generally uncomfortable and they still charge a significant price for their items,” said former Gracewood mom Hope Latin. “Patti’s Place is completely different. It is a pleasant experience where you can actually try on clothes. It feels like you’re shopping in a real boutique.”
As the dream for the little boutique has become a reality, Gracewood is expanding its vision for Patti’s Place. Eventually, according to Executive Director Debbie Rippstein, Gracewood would like make store resources available to partner churches so they can help members who may be going through a hard time.