*Help women discover their purpose for life …help them recover, prevent abuse…be clothed from our Butterfly Boutique, etc.!
Angels of Mercy Rochester does not rely on well-heeled benefactors.
In the years since, Angels of Mercy has held three clothing drives and opened the doors to "Butterfly Boutique," a shop at which women who are coming out of recovery or other shelters are allowed to pick out up to three professional clothing outfits for job interviews or other reasons. "Like butterflies, we want to them to be able to spread their wings and fly," Colligan said.
On Saturday, they will host an open house at their newly opened office on North Winton Road, officially moving the operation's headquarters from Colligan's basement and garage to a place with computers and meeting rooms.
Fifty of them were delivered to a village in Honduras in May by a group of medical residents from Strong Memorial Hospital's Department of Family Medicine involved in global medicine training. The group travels twice a year to San Jose San Marcos de la Sierra."The girls were thrilled," said Barbara Gawinski, associate director of global and refugee health, who travels with the group. "They are typically wearing skirts and shirts — it sort of looks like hand-me-downs that they might get in the market — things that had been used and very thread-bare. They don't really have a lot of clothes. "It was a different look than they'd ever seen before, but the teachers told us 'Yes, yes. We would love for you to bring more.' They were very excited about it," said Gawinski, adding that 50 more dresses will be delivered during the group's next trip in October.
To date, Angels of Mercy, which has become the New York representative for the Dress A Girl operation, has provided
close to 15,000 dresses that have gone to about 10 countries. That's about a third of the 50,000 dresses the agency has done.
"It's been absolutely remarkable what Mary Jo has done," said Rachel Eggum Cinader, Dress A Girl's founder, who estimated most
states have produced about 1,000 to 2,000 dresses. "In terms of getting people to come to her events and sending out
dresses, they are, by far, the most
And the commitment is lasting: At Angels of Mercy's monthly sewing sessions, 80 to 100 women still show up. A Dress the Girls effort was formed recently at Mercy High School and about 50 people girls have
signed up to participate.
"The people of Rochester, they are just amazing," said Eggum Cinader. "Mary Jo is incredible, she has these great ideas, she's enthusiastic. She had 150 women there for heir first event — I'm like 'How do you
even deal with 150 women coming to sew?'"
"I don't know how she does it, but it's like everything she touches, God blesses." Colligan deflects any credit.
"It's all these wonderful women," she said. "We now have young girls involved, mothers, grandmothers, everyone."
The reasons for their commitment are numerous, she said.Some are brought in by friends. Some just like to sew. Many have experienced problems in their own lives and the lives of their daughters, mothers and sisters.
"These issues can affect any woman, anywhere," Colligan said. "It doesn't matter who you are."
The common thread among Angels volunteers is the understanding of the struggles women face, whether it be drug and alcohol abuse, addiction, depression, self-harm, unplanned pregnancies, physical and mental abuse and eating disorders.
"They want to help, they understand, in some cases from personal experience, what these women are going through. And they want them to go into the world healed and strong," shesaid. "What anyone would want for their own