29 November 2017

                                                                       Hunting for a Home

A Story of Sisterhood 

As you enter Suzen Sez, a women’s clothing boutique at 2421 University Avenue, Madison, you will be warmly welcomed by one of the “Sez Sisters” as well as Piper the dog. The Sez Sisters include Amy Kahl, shop owner, and her associates, Katie Gould, Kris Robinson and Mary Smith, all of whom hold a special place in the mission of The Salvation Army of Dane County.

“We named ourselves the Sez Sisters!” says Katie, explaining the tight bond the women share.

The shop, with its brightly colored and uniquely designed apparel, is cozy and comfortable, and you will soon find yourself chatting openly and forming a real connection with the staff. “That’s just kind of how it is with our customers. It’s a personal experience.   We talk and spend time. That’s what happens in a small, more personal boutique,” says Amy.

But Amy and her employees aren’t just about chatting and fashion. These women have a long history of giving back, including holiday gift shopping for The Salvation Army’s Holly House.

Holly House provides transitional housing for single women who have experienced chronic homelessness. The house accommodates eight women, who are welcome to stay as long as 24 months while they re-establish self-sufficiency. Residents participate in intensive case management as they work toward permanent housing, employment readiness, and practical life skills.

This Christmas Suzen Sez will continue its tradition of sending special gifts to the Holly House women.  Years ago, the Sisters decided they would pick individual items for the ladies instead of exchanging gifts among themselves.  Each December they are given the first names of residents, and they shop to fill the requests. The selections are both beautiful and practical – coats, sweaters, boots, etc.

 Katie describes it. “I always say to Amy this is my favorite thing about Christmas. When you give to a charity, you’re not always sure it how it gets to a person. But in the case of Holly House, they send a list and we get to go shopping for them. I usually get them almost everything on the list, pick out something nice, and throw in a candy cane. 

She adds, “We have a first name and all they get is our first name. And then, by George, we get a thank you note, which I love. They say things like, ‘This is the first time in a long, long time that I’ve had a Christmas present.’ That’s what it’s all about.”

Amy sums it up, “We don’t do it to get anything, but yet you get so much. To receive a hand-written note from somebody who has been through a horrible situation, and know -I might have made their day brighter - that’s enough.”