The Effects of a Disastrous Fire Calls for a Grassroots Movement

Although COVID-19 is the focus of attention on all ends of the spectrum, it is difficult to remember what we talked about the pre-Coronavirus pandemic. Social media platforms’ algorithms have taken away the importance and attention of additional pressing matters that are also taking place. So remember to wash your hands before and after you scroll through this article. 

Ever since the fire that broke out in Irvine, the nonprofit organization’s headquarters, Working Wardrobes, has been standing strong regardless of the unexpected fire that incinerated the building to its skeleton and everything inside. Since the fire took away services such as training for over 105,000 job-seekers since 1990, and resources such as professional clothing for veterans, re-entry workers, unemployed, young adults, underemployed, and seniors, temporality doesn’t halt, it keeps moving forward.

I had the opportunity to speak to Devon Poer, Marketing & Public Relations Manager of Working Wardrobes, via email, which coincidentally worked out in time for social distancing. Poer provided me with silver lining plans for the post-disaster of the headquarters. 

Q: What plans does Working Wardrobes have for the near future?

DP: We plan for the short term to rebuild our operations and find a permanent location for our Career Success Center and Donation Center.  They will be in two separate locations.

Q: Where will Working Wardrobes go from here?

DP: We will keep moving forward providing our client services at no cost because of the generosity of the community through monetary and clothing donations. All of our events are going to be hosted, on schedule, which is also a great way to support Working Wardrobes.

Q: What is the nicest thing anyone has done for Working Wardrobes after the fire?

DP: We received a $100,000 donation from the Pacific Life Foundation on Monday morning after the fire to help us rebuild.  We have had past clients from our 30-year history reach out to us after hearing the devastating news and they have generously donated money to help us rebuild. The people we serve truly know how important it is to reinvest money back into the community to help another person.  We love that. They are truly paying it forward.


Q: Why is Working Wardrobes’ Mission so important to you?

DP: Our clients have overcome difficult challenges, including homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence and veteran-to-civilian transition so they can get on their feet and back to work. When we help those who are seeking a hand up, not a handout, we thrive as a community.

Working Wardrobes also makes an even larger impact on the community by preventing millions of pounds of clothing from going to landfills through sales in our retail stores and our client wardrobe center.  We give clothes new life and our clients a second chance!

Q: What is your favorite accomplishment/moment from the past 30 years with Working Wardrobes?

DP: We have been able to help more than 105,000 people overcome barriers to employment and achieve the Power of a Paycheck®.  We want to do more, for more, with the support of our great community we will do that!


Although life’s unexpected events occur sporadically, the cooperation of the community to rebuild from the ground up doesn’t go unnoticed. If you are looking to help Working Wardrobes, you have chosen to be a good samaritan by participating in a grassroots movement. 

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