We’ve all imagined what our dream job could be and, disappointingly, most of us fall short of that. Becoming a rock star or an astronaut might not have been in the cards but, if lucky, we found something we, at least, enjoy.
For Jamaican-born Shamine Linton though, serving her community by helping the less fortunate has always been dream work and, in fact, just a part of who she is.
That’s because Linton grew up with a strong sense of community which is now at the forefront of her business, Sharia’s Closet. This non-profit was created with the mission to provide free, emergency clothing to those in financial crisis no matter the circumstances. It connects with those individuals and families through direct referrals from a network of service agencies and school programs to supply them with clothing essentials. No questions asked.
The modest storefront at 6244 El Cajon Blvd. is an entry way to a brighter future for those that come searching for what many take for granted. Some come to Sharia’s Closet because they’ve tragically lost everything in some natural disaster such as a fire or flood. Others come in anticipation of a life-changing job interview or court appearance. Because of those overwhelming needs, making fashion choices becomes another source of stress rather than one of pleasure.
But Linton strives to maintain the dignity and self-respect of her clients by offering no-cost clothing that is cultivated with a client’s preferences and style in mind. Each bag is personalized and unique. She says that stories of gratitude flow from clients because they feel uplifted instead of being made to feel less than just because they need clothes.
“You have to walk through this space [and] feel the love, the energy, the thoughtfulness…the quality of clothes that goes into every bag that goes out,” she proclaims. “That’s really serving from the heart.”
And the mission doesn’t just end or begin with a bag of clothes. The “guardian angels”, as Shamine calls them, are part of a circle of love that sustains the good work of Sharia’s Closet. From the mentorship that went into building the business to the donations brought in daily, the non-profit pays that goodwill forward to the community they serve.
Linton recalls one unsheltered man who became a client, then became a law enforcement officer in the area and another who offered to help her fill out grant applications during her initial search for funding saying, “it takes a village”.
While the place she built is full of acceptance and humility, Linton and her small staff of family and volunteers still call upon the College Area for its support. Much of the funding allocated for non-profits goes to sustain the social services of larger organizations, so Sharia’s Closet relies heavily on the financial donations and kindness of strangers to keep its basic-needs supplies in stock.
These days it can seem difficult to find evidence of the better part of our human nature but as long as she has this space to package “love, hope, dignity, and respect in a bag”, Shamine Linton and Sharia’s closet will always be proof that dreams can, and do, come true.
To help continue the dream work of Sharia’s Closet, visit the shariascloset.org to donate now.
—Austin Smith writes on behalf of the College Area Business District.