OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — In an instant, Patti Serres makes you feel welcome. That same warmth greets children in need when they come to The Bloomin’ Boutique, the non-profit she started.
The Bloomin’ Boutique provides things like brand-new clothes, toiletries and even bed sheets to children during some of their toughest moments.
“If you were to come in here as one of those children, you would be getting a new pair of shoes, four pants, five shirts, a jacket, three bras, five underwear, five socks,” Serres told KOIN 6 News. “We just build and sustained you with a care package so you can go a week in school and have whatever you need.”
She is adamant about only giving new items, a detail that can make all the difference during a difficult time.
“My experience of what I’ve witnessed in the last 13 years is when you give a child something new, they come in here with their arms kind of rolled in, not knowing what to expect. But they walk out of here with their shoulders back and they have their backpacks, their bedding, and they feel valued.”
It’s something Patti Serres understands well. When she was 4, a car crash changed everything.
“It was back in the day when there was no seat belts,” she said. “And my mother was holding my sister, who was a year old, and she broke her neck. So she passed three days after the accident. And we were four kids with a father whose wife had just passed. He didn’t quite have the tools. He was a fabulous dad, but it was a lot.”
She clearly remembers the help that came from all around, including the Sunshine Division — two boxes, one with food, the other with toys.
When things got tougher at home, there was another big change.
“My grandmother, who was a teacher in Milwaukie, took us in because we were close to being placed into foster care. And she took us in and took care of us and raised us. And it’s just those things I wouldn’t change,” she said. “I wanted my mom obviously, but I wouldn’t change it because I think it made me who I am.”
Now thousands of lives are touched because of Patti’s work — not just the children, but donors and volunteers, too.
Volunteers Nan Dewitt and Barb Schmidt nominated Patti to be honored as a KOIN 6 Remarkable Woman.
“I want to help kids be productive. And I think this does it by showing them that they’re worth something,” Dewitt said. “She built this on her own from nothing, I mean, and it just has bloomed. She’s gotten so many people involved and it’s addictive. You feel so good when you do something positive. I think, you know, it’s just remarkable for what she has accomplished and how many donors she’s been able to secure and get people involved in the community.”
It takes a person who can garner support from her community to sustain all that is available at The Bloomin’ Boutique.
“It’s just so darn fun to be with her. I learn great stuff from her every day. She’s kind of love in action is what I would say,” Schmidt said. “I am always so eager to get here.”
So is Patti Serres, who is eager to make sure each child receives a personalized, positive experience that might just impact them for the rest of their lives.
“I actually experienced and had the privilege of doing three boys during the pandemic whose mother crossed over. And they were 12-year-old triplets. I personally came up here and laid out all of their care packages and when their advocate picked it up, she started to cry. And I told her, I said, you know, the dad was only asking for coats and shoes, but actually I know what those kids needed. And all I knew at the end of the day was I couldn’t change their situation, but I know when they went to bed with new underwear, new pajamas, new bedding, and a pillow with a homemade pillowcase, they knew that somebody cared,” she said.
Bloomin’ Boutique needs a lot of space because they help about 720 kids each year in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties, from infants to high schoolers.
The referrals come from agencies that help children in need, including some who are going into foster care.
KOIN 6 and Portland’s CW looks forward to recognizing the great contributions women have made in our nation and local communities. Remarkable Women is part of a nationwide Nexstar Media initiative to honor the influence women have had on public policy, social progress and the quality of life.
Four local women will be considered for Nexstar’s nationwide 2023 Woman of the Year Award. One local winner will be selected to earn a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Los Angeles.