Wednesday, August 06, 2014

An Extraordinary Fashion Show

The girls and boys, ladies and gentlemen, walked across the stage at the African-American Performing Arts Center in Albuquerque like seasoned models. The clothes that these volunteers were modeling were no ordinary dresses, blouses and shirts. They were created by a group of homeless or near homeless women who are becoming skilled seamstresses. They have been learning sewing skills through a one-year program offered by the  TenderLove Community Center.

The program, which started in September 2013, is the brainchild of Debbie Johnson, an immigrant from Nigeria, who herself experienced months of homelessness during part of the time when she lived in Atlanta. "We developed a 12-month program to teach women the skills that will change their lives and assist them in securing a job within 3 months of graduation," said Ms. Johnson, who is founder and director of the Tenderlove Community Center.
The initial class of women will be completing a year in the program, and a graduation ceremony is planned for October 4, 2014. Homeless or near homeless women who are interested in the next 12-month session can visit the center and fill out an application between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (class hours).

The women have already produced many articles of clothing as well as other hand-woven items like purses, bags, shoes, jewelry and much more. One of their goals is to create a wedding dress (so if you know anyone who is getting married, please drop a note to  Some of the items that were produced through the program are displayed via an online business called Shalom Elegant Styles.

You Can Help Support the Program
Tenderlove Community Center would like to continue providing opportunities for homeless and near homeless women to learn sewing and clothes making skills.

You can help through financial donations.
$12 will provide bus transportation for 1 student for 1 month
$35 will pay tuition 1 student for 1 day
$130 will pay tuition for 1 student for 1 week
$220 will pay for fabric and supplies for 1 student for 1 year
$1,200 will pay for one month rent
$6,200 will pay tuition and fees for 1 student for 1 year

In-kind donations are also accepted. The following items are most needed:  sewing machines, fabrics  and zippers.

Send monetary donations to Tenderlove Community Center, P.O Box 65156, Albuquerque NM, 87193 Attn: Debbie Johnson.  Donations by credit can also be made at the center.

For more information, call 505-349-1795, send an e--mail message to, visit their Web site or "Like" them on Facebook.

The clothes made by the women were also on display at the fashion show last Saturday.  The emcee was KC Quirk, executive director of Crossroads for Women.

A few Scenes from the Fashion Show

(Photos:  Carlos Navarro)

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