Jane Hegstrom: Building Self-Esteem in Teens
Jane Hegstrom is a familiar face in the community, and at CASA. She has spent almost two decades advocating for children in the Pikes Peak Region. And while her years as an advocate are especially meaningful (particularly the friendship she formed with a young diabetic girl who is now a happy and healthy adult thanks to Jane), the mission she’s most known for is the Hanger.
The Hanger is a project of CASA’s Milton Foster Children’s Fund and it’s a store where foster teens are able to shop for free clothing, accessories, toiletries, shoes, and more.
“Most times, when a teen is moved into the foster care system, they don’t take all their belongings so they never have much at all to call their own,” Jane said. “They have virtually no disposable income, thus, no opportunity to shop for what they want, need, or like. Many times they end up wearing what other teens have left behind when they’ve been moved.”
The idea for the store came about when Jane met a foster teen who regularly skipped school because she was too humiliated to wear the same outfit day after day. Jane immediately recognized an unmet need in our community and went to work filling the void.
“These teenagers are on the brink of emancipating and being on their own, and if some clothing they like will keep them in school, give them some self-esteem and confidence and make them feel better, then it’s the least we can do,” she says. “After all, they never did anything wrong in the first place to end up where they have.”
The store is stocked full of items generously donated by the community. It’s a simple concept that most of us take for granted, but for a foster kid, being able to choose and wear your own clothes builds self-esteem. Not only does the Hanger fill this need, but it gives teens the opportunity to gain work experience by helping to operate the store.
“Every Saturday we see kids come in with their heads down, not interacting and never looking anyone in the eye. Then we get to see those same teenagers leave The Hanger with a bag of clothing that they chose because they liked them and those ‘new’ clothes made them feel really good about themselves and how they looked! Believe it or not, we have had kids come to The Hanger who have never actually walked into a store, picked out some things they liked, tried them on, and gone home with them.”
From sorting the donations to operating the store, and from changing the inventory with the seasons to hiring and training teen workers, Jane makes sure the Hanger stays in operation as a valuable community resource.
Over 450 kids shopped in the store in 2017.
Interested in donating to the Hanger? Click here to learn how!