OKEECHOBEE — My Aunt’s House, commonly referred to as “The Closet” has been a fixture in Okeechobee since 2003. The Closet has been faithfully funded by the Children’s Services Council of Okeechobee and the United Way. It has been supported by the firefighters in Okeechobee as well as other local donors. The mission of the closet has always been and will continue to be to improve the quality of life for people in Okeechobee. In September 2022, The Closet moved to its current location at 204 N. Parrott Ave. Okeechobee. It is nearly ready to reopen, with lots of changes in store.
The board of directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Interim Executive Director Maria Olivares. Maria will be in this volunteer position, as The Closet goes through additional changes to best serve the community.
Maria is originally from Miami-Dade County, and her family moved here when she was a child after they survived a very scary Hurricane Andrew. Maria credits that experience for the compassion she has to serve people. She has been a medical assistant for over 22 years in health care settings; and of those years she has served in the capacity of a clinical care coordinator, taking care of many chronically ill patients in Okeechobee and the surrounding areas.
Maria has experience working for nonprofits, as her employment in the medical field has been served all within local nonprofit organizations. Additionally, Maria was the founding Board Chair for Our Village Okeechobee.
Maria is bilingual, which will be a huge help for non-English speaking clients. She is a current board member for Nuestro Pueblo Servicios de Inmigracion and past board member for Professionals for the Cure. She is currently employed at Our Village Okeechobee as a clinical care coordinator, and this work will seamlessly cross over as she takes on this new role.
My Aunt's House will be taking a new approach for future sustainability, and envision The Closet being open to everyone. Clients will continue to be able to obtain clothing throughout the year, at regular intervals, at no cost. There will be no referral necessary, and the client will be asked to bring four week’s proof of income or a letter showing eligibility for SSI or SNAP assistance, and proof of an Okeechobee address. Clothing will be available to all families for a nominal donation, no matter their income level. This earned income strategy enables local families to find savings and The Closet to achieve sustainability. With the closing of a large local nonprofit and the current economy, families find it very hard to gain access to reduced cost clothing and the board felt that this decision would assist our hard working families, who may not qualify for free clothing.
Look for upcoming announcements and invitations for grand reopening of My Aunt’s House “The Closet." For more information, call at 863-634-2306.