Alma Project: Work Clothes Closet

By Kate Riley October 21, 2014

Hi everyone! Today I’m excited to share another project I’m working on in my local community. Long time readers know over the years we’ve donated our time and raised money for our local charity of choice, the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS) and we’re at it again this fall. Years ago we dubbed our efforts the “Alma Project” after the first house we adopted and the name stuck.

COTS has helped thousands get back under a roof of their own and provides almost 350 beds every night. The kitchen serves over 124,000 meals a year and delivers over 750,000 pounds of food annually, and the award-winning program has helped thousands to rebuild their lives.

The latest project is one for a community Work Clothes Closet/Store to help complete the Work Ready training program. Once the clients in the program are trained in a trade, skill, or service, the new COTS Work Clothes Closet will provide them with clothing to reenter the workforce.

The project received some local press a few weeks ago…

local paper feature

It’s hard to read so here are the important points…

Training and attire are the biggest self confidence boosters for people reentering the workforce but purchasing clothing is beyond the income level of COTS clients. The Work Clothes Closet is the latest space transformation I’m working on with a team, it will provide not just professional attire for men and women, but trade clothing too (chefs, construction, etc.).

A local commercial property owner generously donated downtown space to serve as the Work Clothes Closet and house the attire for the program. No money will change hands, this store is run on donations, and by the COTS volunteers, and the good will of the people !

Here’s a peek at one corner of the space when we started a few weeks ago, it’s 2,200 square feet so there is much to do including building two dressing rooms, painting the ceiling, walls, and floors, and constructing garment racks, shelves, and display cases.

cots work closet 1

A local volunteer contractor has already prepped the sheet rocked walls with topping compound so we’re ready for the next step which is primer and paint on the walls (pale gray) and a porch and floor paint for the cement floors (navy blue).

We’re going with an industrial style for the space, working with the exposed pipes and incorporating garment racks and rustic shelves in that style, like these.

garment racks shelves


Thus far, Lowe’s has donated building supplies for garment racks and shelves. Thank you Lowes !  lowes building supplies Glidden is donating paint for the walls, ceilings, and cement floors. Thank you Glidden!

glidden donated paint

World Market is donating gift cards to purchase light fixtures, scarves, and jewelry, we’re excited to pull this space together!

cp world market donations

If you’re a brand or store, large or small, that would like to contribute email me at centsationalgirl[at] This Work Clothes Closet project is an unfunded  COTS project that relies on donations and volunteers so if you’d like to help out we’d appreciate it!

What we need is LABOR, so if you’re local, you can come on by this Saturday between 11 and 4 to help paint that would be wonderful but note you need to fill out a quick application first (screening required) and email me to let me know you’re coming at centsationalgirl[at] so I can share the downtown Petaluma address.

If you’re handy with power tools, we will be building garment racks and shelving these two weekends: Nov 15th and Dec 6th so we could use help with those projects too.

We have no need for clothing right now, we have garment donations, and we’re relying on some local vendors for trade clothing and boots. We do need to raise money to build the partitions to create two dressing rooms so if you’re inclined, donate an amount to the Alma Project via the PayPal button below, or you can or send a check via snailmail to my PO Box made out to “The Alma Project”.

We’re planning on a December Open House so I’ll take pictures of all the projects and share the big reveal then ! ..



  1. God bless all of you!!!I LOVE the look you’re going for and I know it will be a success. I’ll certainly remember y’all in my prayers. Keep us posted on the progress and the final look!

  2. Its so nice to see the kindness of people and what they can achieve with good will and compassion
    Bravo for this beautiful project, i’ll try spreading the word around,

  3. God bless you for this project, so greatly needed. I must be doing too much stuff in my own home, my first thought when I saw Work Clothes was, hey I need another painting outfit! Need to get out more…

  4. What a great project! I would love to help paint, but unfortunately am out of town this weekend. Good luck!

  5. I would love to start this in my hometown. Can you provide me with a contact person, or somewhere to get started. My town is currently poverty stricken and this would help a lot. I am a vocational counselor and helping to get people back to work is what I do, so this would be a wonderful addition to our services. Thanks in advance.

  6. This is such an inspirational project. When I retire in a few years, I want to get involved with something similar to this in my hometown. Thanks for much for all you’re doing for your community.

  7. Kate, I love all that you are doing for COTS/Alma. This project is very similar to Dress For Success, have you heard of it? My husband’s cousin’s wife started up a Dress For Success here in the midwest and it’s going really well. She designed/styled the main room in the front with all black and white outfits and accessories, it looks really nice. What a truly great community resource!

    • Thanks Debbie, and everyone! I’ve heard of variations of the idea, I know San Francisco has its own program too, it’s a such a great way to give others a helping hand, send me pics if you have them Debbie!

  8. God bless you and all the others that work with this cause. It’s going to have a very upscale look and that is what is deserved. How nice of the local contractor, Lowe’s, World Market and Glidden. People are so generous and kind.

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