Rachel Howard has made it her mission to pay it forward.
Her journey started about seven years ago when she left her marriage.
“During that time I was starting over, basically had nothing and people would give you items. They were being generous, it was good intentions but I don’t want something that broken, dirty and old. That’s not helping people when they’re always in a situation, it’s not helping them build back up,” Howard said.
Starting over isn’t easy. Struggling to make ends meet, she found herself being a client at the Abused Adult Resource Center in Bismarck.
“It is very difficult and it is lonely. Even though that situation you were in isn’t healthy or wasn’t the best, it’s what you knew and you’re going to go into the unknown and there’s no one there,” Howard said.
She founded a nonprofit called Closet 127 to support families with supplies they need to start over.
“We are not actually building the structure but we’re helping them build everything inside of it. So we have furniture, household items, beds, couches, anything they need to turn their apartments, the house, into their home,” Howard said.
Despite the situation, Rachel wants everyone to have access to quality living standards. Closet 127 is not a thrift store and items are in good condition and free, as long as you pay it forward.
“They schedule an appointment with us via email and then we ask them to come into our warehouse to volunteer an hour of their time and we ask to donate at least a dollar,” Howard said.
Rachel remarried in 2018 and lives with her healthy family in Bismarck. Since getting out of her abusive situation, Rachel’s goal is to be a form of support for other people going through the same thing.
“Just have faith, that’s all you can do. And find people that support you, they are out there. They just might be strangers,” Howard said.
Rachel is asking for handwritten notes and pictures to include in “Welcome Home” buckets for people starting over.
To help out or for more information, you can email Closet 127 at firstname.lastname@example.org or head to their website.