Written by Merah Wright, Adelante Thrift Volunteer Coordinator
At Adelante Thrift, we have many amazing volunteers come through our doors - generously giving of their time, energy, and resources! And every volunteer comes with his or her own story, which, many times, we have the privilege of hearing. The most recent story that came along is about perseverance and passion and trust in God.
Charlene Kimmel and her daughter Jalen have been volunteering at the store since its opening in 2015. Charlene loves shopping at thrift stores, so when three years ago her church started partnering with Adelante Thrift, she was compelled by the mission of the store in the community and immediately signed on.
A few months ago, Charlene shared with us her vision for a very unique thrift store that she was about to open. In January of 2016 at the age of 38, Charlene was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer which came as a total shock for her and her family, and completely changed her life. While in the fight of her life against cancer, Charlene discovered the great need for affordable apparel for those battling cancer. She found herself needing very specific apparel and accessories. However, availability was limited either to items sold by hospital boutiques that were too expensive to afford, or items that were free of charge but didn’t come with choices for the wearer. As a clinical researcher, Charlene had never before considered starting her own thrift store. But at that stage of her life and desperately wanting others who were newly diagnosed with cancer to have a more uplifting experience, she founded Battle Boutique. She believes God gave her the name for her store, “Battle Boutique”, based on Ephesians 6:16-17: “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”. What a powerful battle cry!
Battle Boutique is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created for cancer patients, survivors, family, and friends to provide affordable apparel and supplies needed during treatment, recovery and cancer awareness. It’s a place to donate apparel and supplies that are no longer needed. And it’s a community to provide encouragement, reinforcements, and solace.
Battle Boutique opened its doors on July 7, 2018 at 11716 W. 95th Street in Overland Park, Kansas. We had the privilege of visiting Charlene at the new store about a month after its official opening. Upon entering, you immediately sense an atmosphere of peace and comfort. It is more than just your typical store - it is a place to get quality “battle gear,” both used and new, at affordable prices. It is a place to pass along the items that helped carry you or someone you know through the battle, and it’s a place to find support and connection during a difficult season. If you have items that are not being used, please consider donating them! Some of the things in highest demand are camisoles with a front zipper, bras with pockets to insert forms, button-up pajamas and shirts, and turbans, scarves and headbands made of soft material.
Charlene has many hopes and goals for the future of Battle Boutique. One, in addition to being able to continue providing for women battling all types of cancer, is to help meet the needs of children who have been diagnosed with cancer. The hope is to be a place where children and their parents can find new and used items at affordable prices, and a place to connect and find support. This store and ministry is very necessary and has already blessed numerous people! You can find out more about Charlene’s story and her amazing ministry at Battle Boutique’s website: https://www.battle.boutique/.