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Claire Waters in her Sunday Best

“All people are deserving because they are unique and special.  Some, because they are relatives and are loved.  Some, because of what they’ve done for their families.  But some are very special and unique because of the love they’ve shown to everyone, even strangers they have not met.”
—Children of Claire Waters


Our mother always made a difference in our lives by showing us by example the true meaning of love, sacrificial giving.  When our father, Dennis, passed suddenly in 1968, our mother reared the five of us - Sandra, Sheri, Sheila, Steven, and Sylvia - alone.  All of her life was fortressed with determination, faith, prayer and courage—driving factors which caused her most  precious gift—the ministry of giving—to flourish.

Twenty-two years ago, at the age of sixty, Claire Waters knew her divine calling had come to fruition.  She had great compassion and empathy for men, women, boys and girls who were in need of clean, quality clothing and food.  One might say a woman of this age could not further her dream of helping those in need; however, the miracle took place in her little garage, with her older model Chevrolet, a few phone calls to potential donors, and most importantly, prayer.

Sandy Holley and her Mother, Project Help Clohing Ministry Founder, Claire Waters
Claire Waters and her Daughter, Sandy at the Jefferson Awards for Public Service

The tedious work and long hours sometimes brought disappointment, which was overshadowed by joy.  She used scripture as a source of inspiration to clarify her vision to help others.  “There will always be poor people in the land; therefore, be openhanded toward the poor and needy (Deut 15:11).”  Claire was relentless in her pursuits for her clientele. Because of her steadfastness, an abundance of assistance via clothing and labor always became available.

She believed that one person could facilitate positive change within a community; especially in the low-to-moderate social-economic neighborhoods within Central Ohio.  PHCM literally made a difference in the lives of people from all walks of life—from the First Lady of Ohio—to the homeless man who called the downtown alley his home.  Thousands of families across the Buckeye State and other locales received usable apparel for every season of the year. PHCM helped those who endured catastrophic events as well—floods and hurricanes, and former prison inmates, by furnishing clothing to them as rebuilt their lives.  PHCM began as a grassroots project which has prospered to provide families with clothing, toys and canned food at the annual Christmas give-away—all at no cost to the recipients.  Family and friends continue to serve as stock hands, loaders and sorters, along with solicited volunteers. Today, an advisory board of individuals of varying faiths, ethnic backgrounds and occupations supports the ministry.
Claire Waters at a fundraising event

In its formative years, Claire made all contacts of PHCM –verbal and written—to potential donors.  She picked-up, repaired and coordinated clothing, as well as removed labels from brand-new clothing.  To ensure the neediest of the needy would receive the wares that had been in her stewardship, Claire and a small group of friends would distribute flyers outside of human services agencies, and in government housing complexes.  Additionally, she collected donations of food, toys and miscellaneous items for the Christmas give-away events.

Claire greeted individuals with a smile and cheerful invitation to attend the give-away events.  Her motto rested with treating others with dignity, grace and kindness.  As a retired service worker and U.S. Army veteran, she applied the principles of courtesy fairness, and virtue in her interactions with those whom were served, and she expected all volunteers to do likewise

Project Help Clothing Ministry Founder, Claire Waters at a fundraising event.
This passion for assisting others did not go unrewarded.  PHCM  is the recipient of the following distinguished awards:  The Columbus Dispatch Community Service Award, twice-recipient of the WBNS-10TV Jefferson Award, J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award, Doctors’ Hospital Golden Achievement Award, The Columbus Education Association  Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award, The Ohio Civil Rights Commission Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, Ageless Heroes Award, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Community Service Award, The National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. Humanitarian Award and the Senior Citizen of the Year 2001 Award.  Claire always stated that her most prestigious award was to know so many people were being served.

On November 10, 2005, Claire Waters kept the faith and finished her course. Her sudden demise left us heartbroken, yet hopeful.  Grief-stricken, yet steadfast.  Her lessons of life were well-taught, and they were all by the provision of God.  “I was naked and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me:  I was in prison and ye came unto me.”
Matthew 25:36.