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Another free ‘store’ needs a home

Plainfield’s RichEnDeed lost its space in October, compensates with community events

Joette Doyle, founder of the Plainfield nonprofit RichEnDeed, poses with the store counter with RichEnDeed's logo that a volunteer made for her. RichEnDeed lost its space for its free store in October, but Doyle is confident someone in the community will offer space for minimal rent.

Plainfield — These are tough times for Will Countians who help others through tough times.

In May, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet learned it needed a new home for its donation center.

The Giving Tree had occupied a 3,000-square-foot space on State Street in Lockport for 10 years. But the property was being sold.

The Giving Tree was a free “store” where Catholic Charities clients could “shop” for clothing, along with household and other personal items, with vouchers instead of money.

RichEnDeed in Plainfield, another free store, lost its space in October and is seeking a new home. Joette Doyle, who founded the nonprofit in August 2019, said RichEnDeed provided clothes and other household items to anyone in need without requiring proof of income.

RichEnDeed, a free store in Plainfield, lost its space in October. But its founder Joette Doyle is confident someone in the community will offer space for minimal rent.

“We don’t judge anybody and we don’t turn anyone away,” Doyle said. “I don’t need to know what’s happening in your life. All I need to know is how I can help you.”

‘You don’t know what they’re struggling with.’

In the meantime, RichEnDeed is hosting monthly community outreach events, like the current one: a backpack/school supply drive, Doyle said. The goal is to fill 100 backpacks.

Drop off school supplies and gently used backpacks to either Plainfield address: 1631 Tall Oaks Drive or 16206 Burgundy Drive.

Doyle said RichEnDeed has also collected “fun items” for area nursing homes: sunscreen, sun hats, bubble, water guns, lip balm, beach balls.

RichEnDeed also donated toiletries to Guardian Angel Community Services in Joliet, food to Bags of Hope and Teddy bears and blankets for the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center.

“There are so many people around here in need,” Doyle said. “The people you meet in the grocery store – you don’t know their story. You don’t know what they’re struggling with.”

RichEnDeed, a free store in Plainfield, lost its space in October. But its founder Joette Doyle is confident someone in the community will offer space for minimal rent.

‘It’s the stories that kept it going’

Doyle’s inspiration for RichEnDeed came from two places. The first is her father, Richard Edward Doyle, who died in 2009.

Richard inspired both the concept of helping and the RichEnDeed’s name, which is a play on his benevolence and his initials, she said.

“He always taught us to be giving and not to judge people,” Joette said. “He always told us to take care of each other first and then take care of ourselves. He meant if you give to others, you don’t really need to do anything for yourself. You’ll just be blessed when it comes back to you.”

The second inspiration was Our Caring Closet in Wilmington, another volunteer-run free store that became a nonprofit in 2012.

“I volunteered there for a very long time — at least once a week,” Joette said. “And I was always taking donations with me, filling the van and then coming back with things for people in our community. And I thought, ‘Well if they can do it, I can do it.’ ”

Joette said the biggest “educational piece” about RichEnDeed is that, yes, Plainfield has people in need. And quite often, these people are not homeless; they are in the middle class. They are single parents who are breadwinners. They are people who were financially fine until someone became ill or was laid off.

“Some of the people who came into our store told us just how grateful they are,” Joette said. “They’d come back to the store and tell us what an asset it has been for them. ... It’s the stories that kept it going.”

RichEnDeed, a free store in Plainfield, lost its space in October. But its founder Joette Doyle is confident someone in the community will offer space for minimal rent.

Stories – and dedication beyond even Joette’s own struggles.

‘An amazing place to be’

In June 2020, at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joette learned the reason why two antibiotics didn’t fix her sinus infection. It was because Joette didn’t have a sinus infection. She had a cavernous malformation, “a collection of small blood vessels [capillaries] in the central nervous system that is enlarged and irregular in structure,” according to John Hopkins Medicine.

Joette’s cavernous malformation was in her brain. Cavernous malformations can cause headaches and seizures. Joette said she had a grand mal seizure in July 2020 and doctors removed the malformation.

And Joette was back in her shop six months later.

“I wasn’t going to let something take away what I built. It was a lot of work,” Joette said. “And it wasn’t just mine. It’s the community’s; it’s the volunteers’. Without them, I could not have stayed open. When I got sick, my board members, along with my regular volunteers, just rallied and took care of the store and the donations until I could get back. ... So many people have brought their talents and their ideas to RichEnDeed. That’s what’s made it an amazing place to be.”

RichEnDeed, a free store in Plainfield, lost its space in October. But its founder Joette Doyle is confident someone in the community will offer space for minimal rent.

The main challenge in finding new space is rent, Joette said. RichEnDeed’s previous space was free. Because RichEnDeed is a nonprofit, it can fundraise and accept donations, and it’s done both.

So RichEnDeed is prepared to pay rent, but it must be a small amount of rent, Joette said. In the meantime, RichEnDeed’s merchandise is in storage. But she hasn’t lost hope.

“I know it’s going to happen,” Joette said. “We just need to find the right people.”

And what about Catholic Charities’ Giving Tree?

Although Catholic Charities heard from several Realtors, the nonprofit could not afford the rent, said Maggie Snow, Catholic Charities spokeswoman.

“We’re closing at the end of the month,” Snow said, “which breaks my heart.”

The Giving Tree’s merchandise is being distributed to people in need and organizations that serve people in need, Snow said.

For the last decade, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet, has rented space at 3016  S. State Street in Lockport for its Giving Tree program, where eligible clients "shop" for items with vouchers. But the property is being sold and Catholic Charities must vacate the space by July 1. The program is in danger of closing if the nonprofit can't find affordable space.