March 22, 2012

Swapping fashion for shelter

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN -- A fashion show to benefit the women's homeless shelter in Solon isn't just about women helping women, the organizers say -- it's about people helping people.

click image to enlarge

Erin Savage, holding her daughter Grace, and co-owner Hope Allain of The Swap boutique in Skowhegan are sponsoring a fashion show on Sunday to benefit the women’s homeless shelter in Solon. The show is from 3 to 6 p.m. at T&B Celebration Center.

Staff photo by David Leaming

Erin Savage, 33, and Hope Allain, 29, owners of The Swap, a consignment boutique that opened in December on Madison Avenue, are sponsoring the fashion show from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at T&B Celebration Center. All proceeds will go to the New Hope Women's Shelter, where expansion plans are under way.

"The reason we are doing the fashion show is not only people helping people," Allain said. "Everyone falls down sometimes, and they don't always have someone to pick them back up. We are paying it forward; and if everyone took the time to pay it forward, the world would be a much better place to live in."

Rebecca Philpot, of Embden, the shelter's new director, and Nancy Waugh-Whitmore, of Solon, the new assistant director and treasurer, said the shelter operates on about $40,000 a year; but the cost of the expanded facility, even with donated construction services, will cost about $160,000.

Philpot and Waugh-Whitmore took over duties at the shelter a month ago, when the Rev. John Weeks Jr. and his wife, Linda, left, hoping to start another shelter in northern Maine.

Philpot said the shelter operates with about 12 volunteers and on donations from area churches, businesses and a recent $10,000 grant from Walmart, but it can use all the help it can get.

"These are obviously two very unique young women who have stepped up -- they don't even know us -- the fact that they've done this on their own and taken the initiative, I think that's wonderful," Philpot said. "We're thankful for that."

By this weekend, when a mother and her three children, including a newborn, arrive, the shelter will be home to 10 women and three children. Since the shelter opened in January 2010, the shelter has housed about 200 women and about 50 children. Philpot said the homeless women fall into three categories: those suffering from mental illness, those recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, those who are homeless because of domestic violence and other problems, such as house fires.

Savage and Allain said the fashion show will feature nine or 10 local models, including four women from the shelter, wearing two outfits apiece. Clothing for the show will include prom dresses as well as spring and summer wear. Children also will model clothing, as will a pregnant woman who has agreed to model maternity wear. All the clothing will be for sale, with the proceeds going to the shelter.

Cory King, executive director of the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce, is the event announcer and will describe each outfit as the models take the stage. There will be a red carpet, photographs, door prizes, gift certificates, a 50/50 raffle, a silent auction, food and a cash bar. Many items have been donated by area businesses. Cash donations for the shelter also will be accepted at the event.

Tickets cost $15. They are available at the door or at The Swap and the Chamber of Commerce. Dress is casual.

Doug Harlow -- 612-2367

dharlow@centralmaine.com

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