2020 Empowering Women in Philanthropy Winner Interview
Sally Power, Founder and Executive Director
Charity: Treasure House Fashions
Interviewed by Dr. Shellie Hipsky
How are you inspiring lives?
As the Founder and Executive Director of Treasure House Fashions, I’ve been blessed to touch the lives of more than 30,000 women in our Greater Pittsburgh area through our nonprofit resale shop. We are the “closet” for over 80 agencies and distribute gift certificates for clothing at our meticulously maintained resale shop through these agencies. Their clients then have the dignity of shopping for what they like as well as what they need, at no cost to the individual or agency. For each of the past three years, we have given away half a million dollars’ worth of clothing calculated at our deeply discounted prices (not actual value). Clothing, however, is our means, not our mission; our heart is to affirm the worth of women on challenging journeys.
Is there a story from your life that shows why this work is so important to you?
In 2000, I navigated a painful divorce, leaving me emotionally, spiritually, and financially bankrupt. I was desperate to establish stability for my three teenagers, so naively I took the last of my resources and bought a women’s resale business to augment my teaching income. Who was shopping resale 20 years ago? Not the environmentally conscious or “thrifter.” It was women with limited resources – shoppers in my predicament or worse. I’d hear their story as they shopped (because that’s what we ladies do while we’re shopping). My heart was moved because of my own plight, and I began to literally “give away the store.” A friend recognized my heart for women and encouraged me to establish a non-profit. Treasure House Fashions was birthed from my ashes. It’s always been my mission to come alongside women with encouragement and hope. I’m most encouraged myself hearing from Program Directors like Keith Kondrich from Foundation of Hope when he shares the impact he has observed with the formerly incarcerated clients he works with. He calls our mission ‘life changing.’ Keith recently shared with customers at our store “Sally treats our clients with dignity and respect, and for some ladies, it’s the first time they’ve ever experienced that.” One of his clients stated, “She treated us liked we really matter – I guess we do.” That’s why this mission is so important to me!
What do you want to tell women of the world about why it is so important to give back to their communities?
I am a self-proclaimed “hot mess” – unapologetically! I am far from perfect, but my mess has become my message, encouraging the women I touch to not be discouraged by tragedies or hardships they’ve encountered. I often share lessons I have learned along my bumpy journey – lessons of healthy boundaries and self-esteem, self-care and cultivating healthy friendships, personal responsibility, and challenging yourself to grow! I have the privilege of touching the lives of many amazing women on challenging journeys. I feel like Cinderella turned Fairy Godmother. I wave a magic wand, change the outward appearance, and release the treasure within.
My biggest statement to my sisters of the world is that you don’t have to wait until you have it all together to make a significant impact. You can be flawed and fabulous; you can be broken and offer healing and encouragement to another sister along the way. I would not trade my bumpy journey and bruises because, by the grace of God, those hard knock lessons are what made me who I am today. Through faith, perseverance, and perhaps a fairy godmother, what you may have considered to be “the worst that could happen” can work together for great good and help another along her journey to great possibilities.
What does it mean to you to be part of a Global Sisterhood?
The recent pandemic has heightened our awareness that we are all in this together. The world is not nearly as big as it was when I was growing up. Today we’re more connected and interconnected through technology, travel, and social media. What happens in one country deeply impacts global citizens from halfway around the globe. We’ve become aware that I can touch – influence – support – and care for others even when our cultures are distinctly different. On the inside, we’re not so different after all! There truly is a common thread that we share!