Today we’d like to introduce you to Carol Miranda.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Carol. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was offered an opportunity to take over a small unused office space in a public housing development almost 2 years ago, to continue to stay in the community after being laid off from another organization. The goal was for me to continue to be physically present for the families and provide family support and advocacy. I came up with the idea of the Family Exchange because the need for personal items was huge in the community especially in the low-income public housing development I was working in.
I also knew of many partners who had a lot to donate, including myself. Families would now have the opportunity to come into the Exchange (Boutique) and swap their clothes for other items including small household items. I also created an opportunity for residents, mothers, in the community and development who are not currently employed to volunteer their time and assist with maintaining the Boutique organized.
The Family Exchange has many volunteers today and with the support of local community partners, family, and friends, we have been able to help keep the community green by recycling items that still have a little life in them. Families are helping other families! The space also features a small Caterpillar Room for children to engage in while their parent’s shop.
Families are given 1-hour appointment slots and they are able to visit the Boutique as many times as necessary.
Has it been a smooth road?
I have to say that because I have been in this community for about 8 years now, I feel that things have only gotten better. Residents know where to go when they need certain items and also know where to obtain other resources should they need them. I have also built more relationships with partners and their support is what has allowed for the agency to be as strong as it is today.
My only struggles would be that a family may be in need of something I may not currently have such as larger shoe sizes (13-15 for men and 11.5-12 for women) as well as furniture. I am working on this and hope to secure a bigger space in the near future to be able to store certain furniture items.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Family Exchange story. Tell us more about the business.
I am the Founder/President of The Family Exchange. My specialty is providing clean, gently used clothing items for the entire family. Items can be exchanged for other items or one can just come in and shop. Appointments are appreciated since the space is quite small. I am known for helping families become voices in their communities and to become self-sufficient.
In addition to the Boutique, I run a weekly Mother’s Cafe support group with an average of 15-20 mothers a week in the same development, a few buildings down from the Boutique. I am very proud of gathering families together to make a change in their community and I am also just as proud to have created an agency within the development that the residents and community can call their own.
I believe I am an individual who beams with a passion more than anyone I know. I give my all when it comes to making sure a family has all of the tools they need to help their family succeed. While I know that I do not have the answers for everything, I do know where to go myself to get the help I need to help a family. I am a very dedicated and nurturing person.
I go hard at everything I do with a gentle touch. My specialty would be that I am a mover and a shaker and everyone who I have the pleasure of working with, is touched in more ways than one and is encouraged to go beyond what they believe they can do themselves. The outcomes of the work I do has been amazing!
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I have thought about this a lot. There are many low-income public housing developments throughout the city of Boston. The development I am in is the only one with a clothing exchange agency in it.
My goal is to partner with other developments and open up other clothing exchange opportunities. This is in the works with a smaller development in the same community I am currently in. Only time and available space will tell.
- Everything is FREE!
- Address: 964 Parker Street Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
- Phone: 617-501-3918
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/boutiquefamilyexchangeinc/
- Other: https://jpndc.org/jp-and-carol-miranda/