PORT ST. JOE, Fla. – “I could see the waterline in the house a few inches up from the floor and I realized I lost my clothes. I usually leave them on the floor.”
Not only did 18-year-old Alyssa Diann Strickland lose her wardrobe and possibly her home, she also lost her job when Hurricane Michael damaged the Port St. Joe shoe store where she worked.
“The store’s owner said he couldn’t keep all three of us sales people, so we voted and decided the girl with the most experience should stay,” and that wasn’t her, she recalled. When a friend connected her with another job possibility, Strickland faced a real hurdle: no clothing appropriate for an interview.
At the American Red Cross shelter where she found refuge, she shared her problem with Red Cross disaster mental health volunteer Sheila McPherson, from Long Island, N.Y.
“She needs interview clothes, like khakis and a polo shirt; we’ll help her get them,” said McPherson, who is part of the team helping storm evacuees overcome the hurdles they face on the road to recovery.
McPherson turned to The Stac, a second-hand clothing depot providing a wide range of attire for those affected by the hurricane. With the help of store volunteer Tammy Tevault, she plowed through the inventory to find Strickland the clothes she needed to make a professional impression.
“Ah look! We found them,” McPherson exclaimed when she found two pairs of slacks in the right size. “She also asked for a dress, but said it wasn’t important,” she added, just before finding two colorful, name-brand dresses in Strickland’s size. “She will be so happy!”
Back at the shelter, McPherson was eager to show off her finds: “Look what we found, two pairs of khakis in your size!” And then she pulled out the dresses as a bonus.
“Wow, thank you,” was all Strickland could say of her unexpected good fortune.
“You’re all set,” McPherson assured her. “Remember, answer all questions with a full sentence and hold eye contact. You’ll do great!”