CLEVELAND (WJW)– FOX 8 News is recognizing Remarkable Women in our communities. Throughout Women’s History Month, we will highlight four local women who inspire, lead and forge the way for other women.
Darlene Davis is the first to admit that she is not the world’s best seamstress. But this semi-retired nurse said, with a lot of help, she’s been able to fill a room with traditional clothing that she’s altering.
Through generous donations from Indian and Pakistani women throughout the Cleveland area, Davis has gathered clothes and fabric that will be the start of Georgette’s Closet, a place where Afghan women can get free, traditional clothing and material to make their own. It’s named after her mother, who immigrated from France to the United States with one good dress.
Afghan refugees left their families, their homes, their careers, and everything they knew behind. Sometimes, a little piece of what you lost can make you feel at home.
Davis said something as simple as a new outfit for daily wear can do wonders for someone who is trying to a strange, new place like Cleveland.
“The woman that I did bring the garment to when I met her and her family, she had young children. She looked very tired, with no smile. She looked like she was really struggling, as many of these Afghan women do when they first arrive. When I offered her the garment, it brought a big smile to her face,” Davis said.
“It’s a very difficult journey for the Afghan refugees, any refugee from any country. It’s a very difficult journey. They come with so little and there are so many obstacles things that we don’t think about.”
Davis is a volunteer for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. She runs the donation center and, with a team of volunteers, keeps track of thousands of donated home items so they can prepare welcome kits.
Even though she puts in 40 hours a week here, Davis said she doesn’t consider it work. Helping others is something that should just be part of our lives.
She said USCRI does wonderful work, and families coming to the United States to escape bad situations need and deserve the help to start new lives. Whether it’s a cooking pot, a toy, or a piece of traditional clothing, it will always be her mission to make people feel at home.
“It’s a community. It’s not just about me. I’m a small part of this, maybe a little crazy for working so many hours,” Davis said. “I just have to do it. I have to do it. There is a need and can’t stop until the job is done.”