MENLO PARK (KPIX 5) — Three years ago, when she was a volunteer at the reception desk and the computer lab at the “Veterans Resource Center of America – Next Step”, Laurel Lipsick discovered just how much veterans needed new clothes and shoes.
So she started Laurel’s Closet in 2014.
It’s open four hours a week. Lipsick outfits veterans with business clothes for interviews, shoes, and casual wear.
“They deserve to look fantastic,” she said.
Lipsick even looks for athletic clothes for veterans like Leila Raffiee-Shirazi, who rides her bike to help manage her PTSD.
“It makes me feel really appreciated and like someone really cares,” Raffiee-Shirazi said.
When she isn’t helping veterans pick out new clothes, she spends more time collecting donations from stores, friends, even sports teams at Stanford University, where her husband teaches.
Lipsick has great admiration for all veterans and she hopes do do her part to give them the help they deserve, “What they’ve gone through and sacrificed, it broke my heart.”
When veteran Gary Loftis suffered a mental breakdown, he lost everything. During his treatment for PTSD he came to Lipsick for clothes as he prepared to get back on his feet as an attorney.
“She makes you feel good about yourself every time you see her,” Loftis said. “Incredible. She’s a godsend to us.”
Lipsick serves about three dozen veterans a week at her free clothes closet. It is still based at the Next Step program in Menlo Park.
Next Step Site Director Antoine Brooks said Lipsick makes sure the veterans get new or almost new attire, shoes and backpacks. “She will go out and purchase that item for them,” Brooks said. “She’s a pitbull. If she’s after something, she’s relentless.”
When asked what drives her desire to help those in need, Lipsick simply said, “The ‘thank you,’ the look in their eye, the hug that I get.”
So for outfitting thousands of veterans through Laurel’s Closet, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Laurel Lipsick.
Lipsick really needs donations, especially shoes. If you would like to donate, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650-566-0240.