SOUTH GLENS FALLS — Jamie Metivier, Tanglewood Elementary School reading teacher, has been collecting clothing, household items, and other supplies for several years for families in the Tanglewood district for her Kindness Closet. The Kindness Closet is a small closet within their cafeteria. Now, she has won a $100,000 grant through Farmers Insurance Dream Big Competition. This grant is nationwide and any teacher, public or private, was able to apply. In August, they chose 15 finalists from hundreds of applicants. Last week, Metivier was informed she was one of the five winners chosen.
“Last May, I was watching Jeopardy with my daughter, she makes me watch it with her to prove that she's smarter than me, and she usually wins,” Metivier laughed, explaining how she learned of the grants’ existence.
“A commercial came on for this grant, which I had never heard of, and I immediately thought of our Kindness Closet. At that point, everything that I was doing for it was coming out of my pocket. I had a couple of small donations from local businesses, but the majority of it was just stuff that I was buying for families. So, I went in the next day and asked my principal if he thought that was something I could do,” she explained.
After getting the go-ahead, she spent that weekend applying for the grant and getting the necessary signatures.
"So, what we'll do now is get a free-standing building, probably like one of those sheds, and put that on the school property. Then we will fill it with household items for families and they will be able to come. We'll probably be open two Saturdays a month, that's all still to be determined, but that's our thought. So, Saturday morning we'll open for a few hours and any families in the school district can come in, no questions asked, and get any items they may need,” she said, explaining how the grant money will go to use.
In the South Glens Falls school district, the poverty rates are based on those that apply and receive free and reduced lunch. That is 36 percent of their population.
"That's a third of our school and that's only those that apply. There is definitely need beyond that,” Metivier explained.
Up until now, Metivier has been doing this as a “one-man show.” She is, however, excited to create a committee of community members to bring insight and ideas to the table.
“There have been so many families that have said they're happy to help. The biggest issue is going to be the privacy for families that are coming. So, it will probably end up staying with the staff of the district but that is all to be determined,” she stated.
A lot of local businesses and community members have expressed an interest in helping.
"It's amazing. We've had tremendous support through community members, businesses that have been so supportive of this. $100,000 will go a long way. We have to get the building and there is a lot of logistical stuff there that money will go to but even if we have $70,000 left, that's a lot of items that we'll be able to buy. Our biggest obstacle will be the sustainability piece, that is where we're going to have to reach out to community members to be able to sustain it. BJ's Wholesale was tremendous last year, they had done a lot for the closet that we have now, and I know that they're willing to work with us to stock this as well,” Metivier said, praising the South Glens Falls community.
Her goal is to be open by the summer.