Late last year, JTConnect partnered with Jewish Family Services to create an Innovation Challenge, calling on teens in grades 8-12 to reimagine how Tara’s Closet could better serve the community in the time of coronavirus. Tara’s Closet comprises a dual mission: to provide free clothing to JFS clients in a confidential and dignified manner, and to raise funds to spread awareness about mental illness and the related help provided by JFS. Since Covid-19 hit, they have been unable to give out clothing and need help reimagining how they can ensure that their clients continue to have access to free clothes. In this Shark Tank inspired challenge, teens competed against their friends to design an innovative solution to pitch to our panel of sharks!
This past Monday evening Katie Hanley, CEO of JFS, announced the winner and presented her with a prize,“we are proud to announce that Sophie Kudler is the winner of the Innovation Challenge.” Katie explained that all of the submissions were great but Sophie’s submission stood out because her “ideas were well thought out, creatively presented and demonstrated an understanding and appreciation for the mission.” Sophie’s idea was to put Tara’s Closet on wheels, that way COVID safety protocols can be followed while allowing clients to get their desired clothing in a safe, simple, and helpful way.
When Katie presented Sophie with her award, she was joined virtually by Barbara Roth, founder of Tara’s closet and Tara’s mother, along with other members of the board. Barbara reminded our teens of the importance of mental health and breaking the stigma surrounding it, “We are here for you. If you or your friends are struggling, feeling alone, or feeling sad, you should not be ashamed. We are here for you.” Sophie concluded by sharing that she “really enjoyed participating in this competition because it taught [her and her peers] the importance of thinking creatively to make sure we can help as many people as possible and make a real difference.”