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Gastonia woman starts nonprofit to empower women of color


GASTONIA, N.C. — Charly Lindsey has for years wanted to start a nonprofit.

Lindsey, who moved to Gastonia in 2014 from North Wilkesboro, said that she would often brainstorm, but she wasn’t sure how she would do it or who she would help.

“It’s always been in my heart. I didn’t know how I would be able to obtain it. I didn’t know what demographic I would assist. I didn’t know how I was going to get the money,” she said. “And so actually, while working with my sister at her medical staffing company, we’d come up with all these different crazy ideas. And she would always say, ‘OK, let’s do it.’”

The two held back-to-school drives, gathering monetary donations and school supplies. They also created winter survival kits for the homeless.

In 2020, Lindsey launched her nonprofit, Hope’s Helping Hands, with a mission of helping women of color succeed in life. Last fall, she opened a thrift store, Second Chance Community Thrift, to support Hope’s Helping Hands.

The nonprofit and the thrift store that supports it are a realization of a dream for Lindsey, who says she sees herself in the people she helps.

“I’ve been there before, being young in life, not knowing what direction to go in, not making financially literate choices in life,” she said. “And I feel like if I would have found an organization like this one, maybe even if it’s just like a mentor, that I would have turned my life around a lot faster than I did. I feel like it would have been a lot easier for me.”

Although Lindsey’s mission is to help women of color in particular, Hope’s Helping Hands has provided aid to people who do not fit that demographic. When people come to Lindsey for help, she primarily provides financial assistance, often rent or utilities. Sometimes she offers a voucher that will let people shop in her store for free and pick out what they need.

She also encourages them to take “empowerment classes” to find out why they’re in a slump.

“We want to stop the cycle of them needing assistance,” she said.

Right now, Lindsey needs donations for Second Chance Community Thrift.

“We just need to get the word out a little bit more than we are accepting donations,” she said.

She is also hoping people will see her store as a resource, somewhere they can find nice things ― like a bedroom suite ― for free. She is also seeking people who may be interested in sponsoring a family to help for Christmas.

“I want to be able to help more families. The more customers we have, financially the more families we can help,” she said.

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