Discarded to Divine

Living in a large city, like San Francisco, Calif., makes it easy for anyone who likes to shop to get caught up in accumulating large amounts of clothes. It makes it easy to pack in new clothes amongst old clothes in closets and drawers, causing one to forget about the clothes that they bought and still haven’t worn. Eventually these clothes go out of style and get tossed to the side, discarded.

Michelle Forshner, Special Events Coordinator, manages any and all aspects of event fundraising for St. Vincent De Paul Society.

The St. Vincent De Paul Society manages the largest homeless shelter in Northern California and also manages the largest system of shelters and services for domestic violence survivors in San Francisco. They serve 1,000 people every day, and have served those in need for the past150 years.

Forshner’s motivation to get up and get to work every day is, “Knowing that I’m a player in a larger game, helping those in need.”

One of the St. Vincent De Paul Society’s fundraising events is titled Discarded to Divine. Discarded to Divine “Echoes what we do as a society; homeless are treated like discarded items, like items left in the closet,” explains Forshner.

At the St. Vincent De Paul Society, they utilize “Susie Q’s prom dress” and other clothes that can’t be given to the homeless population and let professional and student designers create new garments out of the discarded items. All designs are auctioned at Discarded to Divine, where all proceeds benefit those suffering from poverty, homelessness, and domestic violence.

Discarded to Divine, is a creative, fun, and charitable way to get involved with the community. “It is as much of a friend-raiser as it is a fundraiser,” says Forshner. “Through Discarded to Divine, we get the opportunity to reach many San Francisco residents that would otherwise not learn of the good works we do for those in need. They, too, may become inspired by our mission and want to get involved.”

This brilliant idea all started out as just a thought of Sally Rosen’s, the founder of Discarded to Divine.

“This event has helped to connect with people who didn’t know about the work that we at St. Vincent De Paul does,” explains Rosen. “It has been an event that never seems to end, but it is so exciting to make connections to people that want to give back in that brings them such joy.”

The event is a partnership of dedicated volunteers, community partners and sponsors. “130 volunteers, models are volunteers, production staff are volunteers; it takes a community to make it happen,” says Forshner.

Discarded to Divine is now in its fifth year, and many wonder how they are able to do this in such a time as this, Forshner simply quiets those thoughts by saying, “The St. Vincent de Paul Society has survived the Great Earthquake, two World Wars and the Great Depression. If we can do that, we can survive this recession,” with the help from the community.

By Arilia Winn