At GRACE, our mission and work involves changing and bettering people’s lives. This fact is not limited to just our clients or volunteers, but it goes for our staff as well. Our Clothing Room Coordinator, Dina Pesina, attests to the life-changing benefits and purpose derived from making life’s work about helping others.
Dina joined the GRACE team nearly twelve years ago starting through a temp agency, and has now long been vital to our ability to assist those in need in our community. Over the years, she has often wondered, “What if GRACE wasn’t here? Where would people go? What would they do? I put myself in our clients’ shoes.” She has literally been in those shoes, and knows first-hand how her entire perspective and life situation has improved from working at GRACE and living in Grapevine.
Born in Lubbock, Texas, her family moved to Grapevine when she was six years old. In her mid-twenties she married and moved to Dallas where her three children, one girl and two boys, were born. However, life became increasingly difficult as she would experience a ten year period flooded with domestic abuse and the dangers that city life can bring – gangs attempting to recruit her eldest son, her children suffering and not progressing in school. Dina and her children eventually fled this turmoil, believing she left the situation just in the nick of time, but not without a tarnished view that people were cruel and there was no good left in the world.
This all changed when she moved back to the town of Grapevine. She describes life as a single mother as ever so difficult, but with her relocation came almost instant progression in her children’s education and God gifting her with a job that has given her purpose. “Working at GRACE has been a blessing because I grew with GRACE. I have changed my perspective – everything – my personal life and life in general.” Dina expresses her gratitude for being enabled to improve life for people who truly need help.
“GRACE was that place that gave me employment, and as I work here I see how other people get encouraged to better themselves. I can relate with our clients and get that connection because I have been there too. I went through that also.”
There is detailed, methodical organization to Dina’s process of managing The Clothing Room and working with her volunteers. She is uniquely qualified due to her understanding of the culture and lifestyle of the people who take our clothing home. Dina asks herself if she would put her own child in the clothes, explaining we do our best to give people clothing they want to wear. Back in 2007, adults would have clothes chosen for them, but she is glad with the change that today GRACE can bestow coupons allowing adults to choose clothing for themselves. Our clients receive the best of the best from our first sorting, which is less than one percent of the total amount donated. At the same time, she and her volunteers try to instill the mindset to clients that our clothing is a supplemental source not intended as one’s entire wardrobe.
Although it is yet March, The Clothing Room has begun the long preparation for back to school. Last year, Dina estimates that GRACE served over 800 “little kids” (up to 14 years of age), over 150 teenage girls and over 100 teenage boys heading back for the school year. She expresses her concern in the lack of shoes for children, hoping we can continue to give every child one pair of shoes, and the desperate need for children’s socks, underwear and light jackets. The packets she and her volunteers prepare for each child, which she attempts to include one new item in each, cannot be completed without these necessities. The Clothing Room needs thousands of all sizes of children’s underwear so that each packet can include at least three pairs where five would be preferable.
Certainly over the years Dina has encountered many individuals and situations that tugged at her heart strings. She recounts one in particular that always comes back to her, encouraging her to do her best. A mother and her five-year-old son visited The Clothing Room at our former location, the mother looked ashamed upon their arrival. Dina had prepared clothing for the pair, but felt concerned that the only shoes suitable for the little boy were muddy and not yet clean. As Dina pulled out the Nikes, she explained it was all that she had and the shoes needed to be washed. But the boy lit up with excitement overlooking the mud, ecstatic by the shoes he had always wanted. The boy tugged at his mother with happiness, “Remember I always told you I wanted some Nikes, and now I have some!”
Working at GRACE has brought something out of Dina that she explains has been passed down to her own children. They are believers and love God, love and respect their family, and they have compassion to help wherever and however they are able. Dina’s role at GRACE has also brought her lifelong friends, including people who are no longer able to volunteer but with whom she continues blessed friendships. She is truly a treasure to our organization, and her dedication and commitment to GRACE, The Clothing Room and our people is unsurpassed. Be sure to say hello and give a well-deserved thank you to our Dina the next time you pass by our Clothing Room.