Amy Anderson strives to help as many foster and adoptive families as she can, doing so through her thriving non-profit.
“I started Amy’s Armoire as a thrift store to create a revenue stream to have money available to solve some of the systematic gaps that I saw in the foster care system.”
Amy went from starting a small, 800-square-foot thrift store, to running a 100% volunteer run non-profit. It takes donations of clothes, toys, and supplies for foster and adopted children of any age. It’s a rather new non-profit; Amy’s Armoire took shape in Barre, Vermont, in June of 2021.
Amy has always known she wanted to help families in some way. “I started off in the orphanage of St. Joseph’s in Burlington as a baby myself, so I come with a history of adoption, and I always knew I wanted to bring children into my life that way,” Amy says.
“When I became a correctional officer, I saw an extreme prevalence of people incarcerated who had spent time in foster care or who had had a significant trauma history of childhood abuse.”
Amy retired early from the Department of Corrections to build her foundation. She and her husband became foster parents in 1999.
“We realized that there were some gaps that we could help fill, and fostering is tough work,” she says. “So, I decided that this is a better way I could help, that I could help more people this way through creating the supports that just weren’t there.”
Amy’s Armoire thrift store sells everything for $5 or less. But, families who need supplies in emergency situations can get them for free.
“One of the things that I feel really proud of is that the store has the heart gallery in it, which is images of Vermont children that are waiting for adoptive homes,” Amy explains. “It’s a visual reminder to people shopping here that that’s why they’re shopping here.”
Amy thanks her team; “our volunteers are the ones paddling the ship and I’m just in the front directing where we’re heading. I couldn’t have gotten where I’ve gotten in a year and a half if it weren’t for the really quality volunteers that we have.”
Amy isn’t confined to Barre; she has storage units in Burlington and Morrisville filled with furniture. It’s available for foster and adoptive families who need it.
Amy’s newest addition is a family center, “to have a space to allow families to visit with their children.”
“Sometimes you have somebody living in a shelter and they’re not allowed to have their children living there, but they’re able to visit their children,” she explains. “We have a kitchen behind us that allows families to live like they would in their own house.”
Amy has many more projects in the works, including creating transportation resources for foster families. “One of the things I want to create with revenue eventually is a day program for teenagers, because they can’t go to childcare and they still need supports that aren’t available out there,” she adds.
Amy hopes to recreate her Armoire throughout the state, so foster and adoptive families anywhere can have the resources they may need, especially in emergency situations and placements.