OC retirement community helps nonprofit Working Wardrobes rebuild after devastating fire

RANCHO MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (KABC) -- Working Wardrobes helps clients overcome difficult challenges in their journey to employment, but the nonprofit lost everything inside its Irvine headquarters after a fire in February.

Sue Thomas and Eileen Padberg personally know the CEO of the 30-year-old nonprofit and believed in its mission. They saw it all unfold on the news the morning of Feb. 2.

"Oh the loss of all their equipment and the racks and racks of clothing," Thomas said.

The women got to work, organizing a clothing drive at their retirement community Reata Glen.

"We really don't sit around playing bridge all day. We love giving back and we're still all very, very active," Thomas said.

All that activity turned into thousands of donations from people ready to give back to their home, like Charlie Fisher.

"Being retired, I have a need to do more to give back to the community that gave me so much when I was growing up in Orange County," Fisher said.

The executive director at Reata Glen, Suzanne Nasraty, was onboard, giving them a space to collect and a bus to transport.

"This is such an inspiring event. Every day, I just love seeing what our residents at Reata Glen can do," Nasraty said.

"We never expected it to be so huge because once people move in here they pretty much downsize, so we didn't think it was going to be a big deal," Padberg said.

The gifts from the community touched the hearts of Working Wardrobes staff.

Griffin Dooley is a career navigator with the nonprofit assigned to work with veterans seeking employment.

"It's amazing to see how much people care, to see to see how much people want to take care of the veterans," Dooley said, adding, "The building may have gone, but the people are still there. They're still standing. They're still working hard."

Becky Mauger who lives at Reata Glen is the Chair of Education with the American Legion Auxiliary Newport Harbor Post Unit 291.

Mauger said as a veterans organization, the American Legion Auxiliary Harbor Post wanted to help the nonprofit that helps so many veterans find employment.

"We know what they do for our vets and we want to give back so I have a $1,000 check that I want to present to these gentlemen on behalf of the Amercian Legion Auxiliary Newport Harbor Post," Mauger said.

Working Wardrobes staff said since the fire, they've been inundated with clothing donations. They encourage anyone who can to give in other ways like gift cards or bus passes.

For more information on how to help click here.
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