One Small Step (dba, Clothes Cabin) was formed in 2001 by a small circle of friends to provide socks to agencies that served the poor. More than 160,000 pairs of socks and large quantities of clothing were distributed over eight years. In 2008, after the clothing bank in Chandler closed, the women of One Small Step located space to operate a small emergency clothing bank for Chandler residents. Within eight months, the volume of clients required a move into commercial space. Forced to find means of paying the rent and utilities, One Small Step took steps to stabilize the organization by incorporating, securing tax credit status for qualifying charitable organizations, getting 501(c)(3) recognition from IRS, developing a donor base, and partnering with other local service agencies.
From the beginning, One Small Step’s mission was to provide clothing relief to those who could not afford to buy the clothes they needed. The organization holds extremely high standards of quality for the clothing and the facility from which it operates, demonstrating respect for the clients. The number of clients increased steadily, forcing another move into larger facilities in 2010.
One Small Step‘s primary focus is Clothes Cabin, where clothing and shoes are distributed three days a week to low- and no-income individuals and families. Sheets, blankets, and towels are provided when the supply allows. Later in 2010, the ‘Back to Work’ program was started to provide steel-toed work boots to men and women who needed them to get or to keep a job.
In the spring of 2011, Clothes Cabin began offering its homeless clients free laundry service to improve their health, standards of hygiene, and self-esteem, and to reduce the waste of clothing that must eventually be thrown away because of filth.
In 2014, storage lockers and mail box slots were made available to the homeless clients. These services (clothing, linens, work boots, homeless laundry, storage lockers and mailboxes) are all provided free of charge and are not offered by any other local agency.
In 2015, nearly 2,000 local families were assisted with over 60,000 articles of clothing. On a typical day, approximately 30 families come for clothing, but there have been as many as 63 families in a day. Clothes Cabin also offers immediate assistance to people in emergencies, opening its doors by appointment whenever necessary to alleviate their stress.
One Small Step also partners with a number of agencies serving the poor and in 2015, those agencies received more than 40,000 articles that were surplus or “seconds” donations. Women’s and children’s clothing typically goes to Mexico or, in an effort to distribute our surplus more locally, Apache Junction or Phoenix. “Seconds” men’s clothing is distributed to the homeless through other local agencies. Nothing of any value is discarded.
All the operations of Clothes Cabin are accomplished by approximately 70 regular volunteers, who give about 900 hours a month to the organization. The staff of One Small Step consists of the Executive Director, Operations Assistant, and two contract employees for grant writing and community relations. The largest expense is the necessary cost of the program delivery site. Rent, utilities, insurance, and supplies account for more than half the expenses of the program.
The largest source of funding for Clothes Cabin and its services is from individuals. One Small Step is a Qualifying Charitable Organization for purposes of the Arizona Tax Credit and benefits greatly from cash donations of $800 or less as a result of the tax credit. (See Donate for more information.) Foundations, corporations, churches, and community organizations provide the next largest segment of revenue; however, sales of donated (non-clothing) items through Friends Resale Boutique have provided the organization with an increasing amount of earned revenue.
One Small Step has a Governing Board of five members, two of which have been with the organization from its inception. An Advisory Board of 8 to 12 members advises the Governing Board at quarterly meetings. Its members represent stakeholders from large corporations, small business, banking, law, community service organizations, marketing, city government, and the volunteers.