Paul’s Place Market Place: An Essential Resource in Southwest Baltimore

October 31st, 2016

Aubrey waited quietly and patiently in the waiting room for her turn to shop in the Market Place, but she got increasingly nervous as she saw how many women were ahead of her. She needed very specific clothing – a white blouse and black pants or skirt – for an interview through America Works, an employment agency that helps women re-enter the workforce. The longer she waited, the less she believed she would find what she needed.

When her number was finally called, her personal shopper guided her through the Market Place to a rack of clothing in the sorting room – and introduced her to Ann, a regular Market Place volunteer. Ann could see the relief on Aubrey’s face when she saw the rack filled with white blouses and black pants, skirts, and suit jackets. Ann expertly estimated Aubrey’s size and began pulling options from the rack; within a few minutes, Aubrey had exactly what she needed for her interview and still had time to shop for school clothes for her daughter.

In the time she has been volunteering, Ann has developed a good eye for what will fit and flatter the women who come in to shop, an important skill since there are no fitting rooms in the Market Place. Ann spends most of her time sorting clothing and helping personal shoppers keep the Market Place well stocked with clothing of all sizes. She loves the opportunity to help women, like Aubrey, find the clothing they need for job interviews and their daily lives – especially when the attire gives them confidence and joy. She’s learned how hard it can be to find that perfect outfit in the time allotted for shopping, even with a personal shopper’s assistance, and has made sure she and other volunteers here on Mondays carefully sort and size the donated clothing.

Ann began volunteering right after the 2015 unrest. She wanted to do more for her adopted city – she bought a house near Reservoir Hill in 2013 – and particularly wanted to volunteer for an organization that addresses the multi-faceted needs of low-income families. She did not find any organizations like that close to home, but heard about Paul’s Place from two regular volunteers she met by chance. On their recommendation, she signed up to volunteer. She felt immediately embraced by the tight-knit community at Paul’s Place – the guests, volunteers, and staff – and loved the warm welcome she received at her first morning meeting. Her job affords her the flexibility to volunteer regularly during the day, and she jumped right in, volunteering every Monday and most Wednesdays in the Market Place.

It takes about 1,000 volunteers each year – many of them regulars like Ann – to sort through the clothing and household items donated by dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals and to open the Market Place three days a week. On Wednesday, Thursdays, and Fridays, adults find clothing for job interviews, uniforms or professional attire for work, and items for everyday wear. Moms, dads, and grandparents find clothing for their quickly growing infants, toddlers, and school-aged children. In the winter, families find coats, hats, mittens, and warm blankets. Last year, about 1,800 men and women each saved hundreds of dollars, if not more, on clothing because they shopped at Paul’s Place – important for families with tight budgets.

Donate Clothing and Household Items to Paul’s Place

Paul’s Place depends on the generosity of donors to stock our Market Place with new and gently-used clothing for men, women, and children and with household items. Dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals donate, but we always need more of the following items:

  • Gently-used or new in-season clothing*
  • Men’s belts
  • New socks in all sizes
  • New underwear in all sizes
  • Blankets, sheets, and towels
  • Gently-used or new backpacks
  • Small household items (e.g. dishes, pots and pans)

You can deliver your donation of clothing or household items to Paul’s Place weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. You can also order items on Amazon and have them shipped to Paul’s Place.

Before donating an item not on the list above, please contact Jayna Powell by email or at 410-625-0775 x121.

*Fall and winter clothing can be donated now through April 2017, except in December when the Market Place is closed.