‘Decluttering’: Chateau La Jolla resident organizes donation of more than a ton to Father Joe’s Villages
Faced with an overstuffed closet after moving from a large house, Marcie Cecil got her neighbors to join her in giving clothes and shoes to the homeless services organization.
La Jollan Marcie Cecil wanted to further her efforts to help people while making more room in her apartment. So she’s finished the first of what she hopes will be many “decluttering days” for her and others.
Cecil, a resident of the Chateau La Jolla retirement community, organized the first decluttering day for Chateau residents Aug. 1, encouraging them to pare the contents of their closets to help people in need.
The residents ended up donating more than 2,200 pounds of clothing and shoes to Father Joe’s Villages, a San Diego nonprofit that helps homeless people by providing meals, housing, health care, employment services and more.
Cecil said she was inspired to organize the donation after moving to Chateau La Jolla more than three years ago from a house on Virginia Way in La Jolla.
She found that “you can’t move to a facility with a one-bedroom apartment from a large house with nine closets,” she said. “So I got here and I tried to keep all my treasures, my precious clothing, my beautiful fabrics and great hats.”
But it was too much, and Cecil said a little voice told her, “You need to give this away.”
She approached the staff and fellow residents at Chateau La Jolla about donating items to Father Joe’s.
“When I shared my intentions … the mission became clear and grew exponentially,” she said.
“It’s a win-win. It is truly a benefit for both those people who are moving to smaller facilities and those receiving services at Father Joe’s.”
— Marcie Cecil
Cecil previously had worked with Friends of the Poor, an organization established by late La Jolla resident and Mother Teresa colleague Dr. Anita Figueredo.
“That’s really a lot of my inspiration,” she said.
Chateau La Jolla helped her announce the donation drive to all the residents, many of whom “feel the same way,” Cecil said. “Everybody here has moved from larger residences.”
Cecil delivered collection bags to the residents and picked them up July 31 and Aug. 1, amazed at the more than a ton of clothes collected.
“The halls were filled with bags,” she said. “It brought tears to your eyes. People are giving, giving, giving.”
Some 98 percent of Chateau residents participated, she said.
The bags were loaded onto pallets and then into a 16-foot Father Joe’s truck, filling it “to the brim,” Cecil said.
“The generosity from the residents at Chateau La Jolla will go a long way in helping people experiencing or at risk of homelessness,” said Deacon Jim Vargas, president and chief executive of Father Joe’s Villages. “This amazing donation is a testament to the power of the community. Our community members play such an important role in keeping Father Joe’s Villages moving forward, and donations like this ensure we can continue to provide quality programs to those in need.”
Chateau residents have asked when Cecil will repeat the decluttering day. Cecil said she wants to make it a quarterly event and hopes other La Jolla senior-living facilities will join in.
“It’s a win-win,” she said. “It is truly a benefit for both those people who are moving to smaller facilities and those receiving services at Father Joe’s.”
Future events will be themed based on Father Joe’s needs, Cecil said. The next, likely to be scheduled in November, will be for coats, boots and socks.
Father Joe’s Villages accepts clothing, household items and more at its five donation centers. The organization also offers free pickups for larger donations like the one from Chateau La Jolla.
Donations also can be made at the Father Joe’s donation bin in the parking lot of Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church at 7669 Girard Ave., La Jolla.
For more information about Father Joe’s Villages, visit myneighbor.org. ◆