Greensboro Resident Organizes Coat Drive for People in Need

Monarch Volunteer Mary Welker stands in front of coats donatedA Greensboro area resident recently organized a collection drive and collected more than 150 winter coats for people supported by Monarch’s Assertive Community Treatment team (ACTT) in Guilford county.

The coats are being handed out to people in North Carolina’s Triad area who are supported through ACTT, which consists of a community-based group of medical, behavioral health and rehabilitation professionals who use a team approach to meet the needs of individuals with severe and persistent mental illness.

“The idea originally sprouted from learning that many facilities need items for their patients or residents either for recreation or clothing,” Mary Welker said, when asked why she decided to start the coat drive. “I’m very passionate about helping the mental health and substance use disorder communities and felt like I had to do something to help, no matter how small.”

Welker initially contacted Monarch and asked if there were any needs. Monarch staff said winter coats are a big need for ACTT participants. “I started thinking of how to best utilize community resources to maximize donations. I thought of local businesses that I frequent often and where I have a few connections,” Mary said of how she coordinated the collection drive. “I also thought of the large communities I was able to reach through work and church. I created a simple flyer with all of the donation drive details, asked if I could put a box at the community locations along with the flyer. I then promoted the drive through social media and asked the locations to do the same.”

Welker said she was surprised at how successful the coat drive became.

“I was honestly shocked to have received so many donations,” she said. “When I started the drive, I anticipated maybe 10 to 20 coats, which would have made me happy. But wow! What a turnout. This was definitely made possible through social media and networking. I’m blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life that support my mission and were not only excited themselves to donate, but to spread the word and secure donations elsewhere.”

Mary believes volunteering is important and that it helps the volunteer just as much as the person receiving the volunteer’s time.

“I think volunteering is so important because personally I know that God has blessed me in so many ways that the least I can do is give back,” she said. “Many people don’t realize that you don’t have to give physical or monetary items to make a difference, but simply donating your time or a listening ear can have the biggest impact. Additionally, I know this time of year specifically can be so tough for many people, myself included. I’ve found that giving back and volunteering eases my struggles and reminds me of the true meaning of this season.”

The coats collected by Welker are making an impact for people served through Monarch’s Guilford Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic.

“The coat drive was so helpful for the clients we support,” said Guilford Behavioral Health Administrator R. Nichole Foster. “Often times we forget how much a winter coat can mean to someone, especially around the holidays and cold seasons.”

Posted on: Thursday January 5, 2023