My Best Friend’s Closet

The Cause

MBFC provides one-on-one consultations to teenage girls aged 12 to 18 from low-income households providing them with a year’s worth of fashionable and functional clothing to meet school, employment, and recreational needs. Services are offered in person and online. The program meets an un-served basic need for many families in the community. MBFC has a two-pronged approach to the program. The first is support to low-income teen girls in the form of clothes, footwear, and toiletries so they have their school and recreational needs met, ultimately supporting their journeys forward. The second is to provide young women with opportunities to engage with and help other young women by offering volunteering and mentoring opportunities through the program, thereby deepening the impact of the organization’s work.
To contribute to the development of self-esteem and self-concept during this time, research suggests that for adolescent girls, self-perceived physical appearance has the strongest relationship to overall self-esteem. Given the enormous influence peer judgements have on identity development, the importance of 'fitting in' and being accepted by peers through fashion and style cannot be undermined. Poor self-esteem and low feelings of relatedness often lead to a lack of school connectedness and engagement, which then may lead to school drop-out and other poor outcomes.

To build self-confidence and support young women to meaningfully participate in school and seek employment, the program operates on these guiding principles:
• Youth’s skills and personal qualities are included and valued;
• Youth have a contribution to make to their schools and communities;
• Engagement in school relies on overcoming low self-esteem and low self-confidence;
• Supporting young women to engage with and help other young women through volunteer and mentorship opportunities with MBFC.

If girls and young women are provided with the clothing to meet their school and recreational needs and are provided with opportunities for volunteering and mentoring, then they will be able to develop self-esteem and personal confidence, build social connectedness with other young women and the larger community, and engage in community service, thereby supporting positive identity development and allowing them to experience educational and employment success. Education leads to meaningful careers.

Who Will it Benefit?

MBFC benefits girls from 12-18 years of age as well as their peers and families. MCA is an inclusive organization that values diversity of staff, volunteers, and clients. We welcome all who identify as women; newcomers; individuals experiencing Low Socio-economic Status; the 2SLGTBQI community and persons with disabilities. In the MBFC program we assist girls who are facing some of the most difficult barriers to advancing their quality of life. We provide them access to our services in as many ways as possible including in person and online services. Our location is wheelchair accessible. To further reduce barriers to using our services we allow girls to self refer to our program.
Implementing virtual online appointments has facilitated a reduction in attendance barriers - particularly for girls who are relying on parents for transportation.
Our staff and volunteers participate in diversity training on a regular basis in order that MCA can provide the safest and most inclusive environment possible to all girls regardless of their circumstances.
The work we do with girls positively affects their families, extended families and peer groups as others watch the transformation that occurs with the client.
Clients are referred to us from over 100 referral partners including immigrant and social service agencies including schools and youth support groups.