In 2017, Summer Youngkin’s life was at a crossroads. Her mother, Claudia’s Alzheimer’s disease had progressed, and her family knew she needed a full-time caregiver. At the time, Youngkin was in the midst of her career, but she wanted to do something more to help — something that would enable her to soak up as much time with her mom. Faced with this desire, she left the workforce, and her husband suggested she start a business of her own. Deciding what that would be was a challenge. All she knew was she loved people and wanted to help. For months Youngkin soul-searched, prayed, and asked what she should be doing. Then, one day while perusing Facebook she came across a picture of a family friend who runs a charitable thrift store in a small Illinois town. She was handing over a check of her profits to charity. Youngkin was immediately intrigued by the idea of this type of thrift store — to the point where it was burning in her soul. After building excitement and doing research, she determined there was a similar need in the Lee’s Summit community. Even though she was fascinated, Youngkin still had reservations and continued to question what was holding her back. It was not until a moment in April, while waiting on her attorney, that the sign became clear: To trust herself and know that her life has new possibilities and purpose. On that day Claudia’s Closet was born.
Claudia’s Closet is more than a second-hand store. It is also much more than a business. Bubbling underneath the surface is a tale that truly exemplifies what it means to be charitable, conscious, and stepping out in faith.
In November of 2017 Claudia’s Closet and its modest staff of volunteers opened and since then has been diligent in providing a comfortable shopping experience that donates its profits to different charities each month. Youngkin and her board of five members methodically choose small, local charities that people may not know much about because they really want to make a difference, and they want to know that they are directly helping people. They have never worried about how they would get donations, as the community has been more than giving, and everything that comes in gets put out, reused, or extended to other charities.
Youngkin explains,”We are basically paying the bills and giving it away, yet I feel rich. It has been a great personal journey and for whatever reason every month it works. I believe if we take care of the human heart, it will trickle down into helping others.”