The Nest Huntsville provides affordable clothing and supplies for families

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The Nest Huntsville officially opened its doors today (April 24) at 108 Main Street East and will provide a valuable resource for local families. When you enter the non-profit store, you’ll see racks of clothing for children up to age 19, infant supplies, toys, books and sporting equipment.

Most of the items are gently used, some donated from community members, some coming from other source like unclaimed lost-and-found clothing from local summer camps. The clothing, equipment and supplies at The Nest are already low-cost, and low-income families can request a free membership that will give them discounted pricing. Plus, the Nest purchases infant supplies like wipes and diapers at cost and passes those savings on to families who come to shop.

“The Nest really does make a difference in people’s lives,” said Tina Kilbourne, Manager, Childcare Services for the District of Muskoka. “(In) tough economic times, it’s very hard to raise a family and make ends meet. For families who are struggling to find full-time employment, or sole-support parents, The Nest does fill a gap.”

There was a noticeable gap for a service like The Nest in Huntsville. Kate Quinlan, Co-ordinator for all three of The Nest’s locations, said families from Huntsville and farther north would make the trek to The Nest Bracebridge when they learned of it from other families. “People were driving from Huntsville, Burk’s Falls, MacTier, at least once a week. If you’re a low income family and you find a good resource, you share it. But anybody can shop here – we want everyone to stop in.”

The Nest is a non-profit initiative supported by Lake Country Community Legal Clinic – which has been helping low-income clients with legal needs for almost 30 years and will have an office at The Nest Huntsville beginning in May – and the District Municipality of Muskoka.

“We are very excited,” said Joanne Boulding, Executive Director, Lake Country Community Legal Clinic. “It’s nice to partner with a new operation. It gives us a location where our clients are already in the area… when people drop in here they can see one of the lawyers or make an appointment.”

All of the money raised at the store goes back into its operation and to the other programs and services it offers. It welcomes donations of gently-used clothing from infant sizes to adult XL, including both indoor and outerwear, footwear and sleep wear, as well as toys, books and sports equipment in good condition.

The Nest’s locations are run by two staff members and welcomes volunteers to help them gain employment skills. One of the programs current volunteers is moving to paid employment this summer.

In addition to its partnership with Lake Country Community Legal Clinic, The Nest is also the location for the Muskoka Family Focus Early Years Program, which will start a new session in September for families with children age 0-6. The Nest Huntsville will also be a pick-up location for the District’s Fresh Food Basket program, which also offers a monthly fresh vegetable and fruit basket for a reasonable cost. And, perhaps most importantly, The Nest is a place to learn about the many programs and resources available across the District, particularly for families who may be struggling to make ends meet.

“What I heard most and what’s important to me is partnership,” said Mayor Scott Aitchison. “Sometimes it’s hard to find out where to go to get the help you need and the support you need. This is a great opportunity to make people aware of the supports that do exist in our community. Huntsville is a generous and giving community, but there is also need. Projects like this will make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Rick Williams, the District’s Commissioner of Community Services, agreed. “The mission statement for the Community Services department is instilling hope, changing lives, building community… There is no program that reflects that as much or more than The Nest,” he said. “It is about young families, it is a sense of optimism toward affordability and sustainability for family units and their economic struggles at times. It’s a chance to see people develop that hope and also see the sense of optimism that they have about their own future. It’s a terrific thing for us to help facilitate, to observe, to participate in… The people we serve with dignity, they themselves become inspired and inspiring to us. This building is going to make a lot of things happen and we are so excited to be part of it.”

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