Food & Clothes Closet’s new manager sets goals to benefit community
By Karen Brainard
Jae Marciano calls her new job as general manager of the Ramona Food & Clothes Closet a “perfect fit.”
“Running a nonprofit is not new to me. I love it because my passion’s always been serving the community,” said Marciano, who has lived in Ramona for 35 years. “I was looking for a way I can give back locally.”
She brings the experience of running four different nonprofits in San Diego County, including Trauma Intervention Program and Operation Homefront, and she already has ideas to boost the benefits that the store offers to the community.
The nonprofit Ramona Food & Clothes Closet is overseen by a board of directors that Marciano said gives her direction. Money raised from the store goes back into the community through college scholarships, donations and grants. This year, F&CC donated $18,000 to the Christian-based recovery program In His Steps, $9,000 to the Ramona Senior Center and $6,000 to Young Life.
According to Marciano, the organization must build up its coffers and turn a profit every month to give more grants and scholarships. The best way to do that is to move merchandise, she said.
In addition to the items in the store, there is merchandise in storage and she needs more hands to help price and re-stock. With 13 part-time employees and a budget freeze, Marciano said she would like to increase the volunteer help from 15 to 30 people so she can get donated items out in the store as quickly as possible to be sold. Volunteers must be age 15 or older and will receive a 20 percent discount on store items. (See sidebar.)
“We have a wonderful opportunity for volunteers. Students can get that much needed experience for scholarships and college applications,” Dee Ann Anderson, F&CC service manager and volunteer coordinator said, adding that school credit is also possible. The store does not take volunteers through court-ordered community service, she said.
Marciano would also like to see more people join the 16-member F&CC board, which she described as being very active. “We need more people. We need to grow,” she said.
Praising her staff, Marciano said, “The best thing about the store is the employees’ relationship with the regular customers. It’s a symbiotic relationship that just works.”
Another goal is to give the store, “more of a department store feel,” she said. She noted that residents can shop for holiday decorations and home accessories in addition to clothing, books and toys, all at low prices.
With Christmas approaching, Marciano would like organizations or businesses to sign up with F&CC to put out bins and collect new or gently used toys that would be given to low-income children in Ramona.
“I really want people in Ramona to know when they drop donations off at this store, it’s going right back in the community…I want them to feel good about donating to us,” said Marciano.
The store also takes food for its food bank, including produce from local gardens.
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- TOPS group donates food to Ramona Food & Clothes Closet
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