BELLINGHAM, Wash – It’s simple advice we’ve heard countless times: It never hurts to ask.
Yet, we often keep our dreams to ourselves and they go unfulfilled.
Which is why we wanted to share the story of a grieving mom who was brave enough to name what she needed.
This is actually a follow up to a story we brought you this summer.
When we last saw Jennifer Schouten her garage, her hallways, her spare rooms - every open space in her Bellingham house - was filled with donated medical supplies she was working to give to those in need.
She does this as a way to honor her son Dominic who died several years ago.
After our story aired she met another woman who was grieving a loss and they had one conversation that changed everything for both of them.
To see them together you’d think Jennifer Schouten and Nicole Givan were lifelong friends.
The truth is they’ve known each other just a few weeks, just since the time Nicole began volunteering with Jennifer’s non profit Dominic’s Closet.
“I don’t know, I’m sort of impulsive like that,” says Nicole.
Nicole isn’t impulsive about where to volunteer. As a nurse - whose mother recently died - she knew Dominic’s Closet was a good fit.
“She’s able to live on and help hundreds -hopefully thousands of people – through what her daughter is doing,” says Nicole.
Instead she says she was impulsive in how she replied when Jennifer herself acted on an impulse and voiced a dream.
“I just kind of haphazardly, kind of even jokingly said ‘well the biggest thing we need is a space’” says Jennifer.
Every corner at home was full because donations have been pouring in for months.
“Dominic’s Closet now has a partnership with the Ronald McDonald house in Seattle,” says Jennifer.
Those donations have been piling up.
“ They’ve actually been in my car for over a week because we ran out of space at home to put everything,” says Jennifer.
So they’re putting them in a new spot, the new home of Dominic’s Closet. It’s part of a boat repair warehouse on the waterfront in the Fairhaven neighborhood. It has several rooms and plenty of space.
Jennifer, Nicole and their volunteers are painting, repairing and finishing the space to fully move in soon.
“I love that its not me, it just happened because people have hearts to give and hearts to love and hearts to help and this community has come together to do just that,” says Jennifer.
Nicole’s husband owns the space and he is donating it completely free of charge to Dominic’s Closet.
“It’s a cool way to remember Dominic and help people at the same time,” says Jennifer. “The ceiling is actually left over paint from his bedroom and his bedroom was blue sky and clouds. A sense of life and hope so we’re gonna have blue sky with clouds as the ceiling here.”
Grief tore their lives apart.
“I hope it keeps growing and I hope these rooms stay full of products for us to send out,” says Nicole.
Now love is putting their lives back together.
“When his death happened, the world felt like it ended,” says Jennifer. “And now I look at this and I’m like the world has kind of just begun.”
Dominic’s Closet continues to accept unused medical supplies as donations. It also continues to offer those supplies to those in need no questions asked. They do it through their Facebook page.
Jennifer says they also can always use monetary donations to help with shipping costs and she continues to dream big and voice other needs. She says they could use a computer, a phone, a bathroom for the new space and even a truck or a van.