Tuesday, April 1, 2014


After almost ten years back in Obion County, I am finally getting out and exploring the neighborhood. With only one student at home, I find I occasionally have free time, and I seem to have a bit more energy these days, too. All that said, I am discovering amazing people and places right here in the hills of Northwest Tennessee.

Beginning today, I am going to write a post every now and then to tell you a little about my hometown. If you're from Obion County, go check out these people and places. If you're not from Obion County, I hope you enjoy a snapshot of life in the country!

Today's snapshot:  OutsideIN

LeEllen Smith didn't want to witness ministry from the side-lines - she wanted to find a way that she could jump in herself and meaningfully serve others in her community. OutsideIN, located on the north side of the town square in Troy, Tennessee, was born from that desire.

LeEllen explains, "The mission of OutsideIN is to repurpose materials which were thought to be useless in an effort to reinvent lives that were thought to be hopeless." OutsideIN employs women who, because of past addictions, incarceration, or lack of education, have found it difficult to get or keep a job. Through job training, education, and mentoring, LeEllen and the other volunteers at OutsideIN encourage these women to use their God-given talents to do productive, meaningful work and to develop the confidence to move forward to better jobs and more stable lives.

The shop at OutsideIN takes donated T-shirts and refashions them into a variety of products, including fun and funky maxi-skirts, hi-lo skirts, and sundresses. These are sold at the shop and are also marketed through other outlets.

LeEllen's daughter Micah helps sort donated T-shirts.
Bryleigh and Susan modeling maxi T-skirts.
Micah modeling a reverse-dye hi-lo skirt.

These garments are so fun - and comfortable! - that I've purchased one to wear to my next book signing. Looks like just the kind of funky skirt a writer would wear, don't you think?

Helen wearing an OutsideIN BlessDress.
LeEllen also wants to share the privilege of ministry with the ladies who work at OutsideIN. For every garment that is sold to a paying customer, a second garment - a BlessDress - is donated to an orphanage in Zambia, Africa, with which OutsideIN has partnered. Through the "Wear One, Share One" program, the ladies at OutsideIN are able to experience the blessing of ministering to others through their work and service.

Now that I've introduced you to OutsideIN, maybe you're wondering how you can learn more about OutsideIN or how you can be part of this ministry. You can check out their website HERE. Or their FaceBook page HERE. Or you can email LeEllen at leellen@wearoneshareone.org or call her at 731-446-8326.

How can you help the wonderful ladies at OutsideIN? If you're spring cleaning, OutsideIN can use good-condition T-shirts, and they are also in great need of more sewing machines. Do you have a friend or relative who owns a boutique? LeEllen is always looking for more outlets for OutsideIN products. You can also help by simply spreading the word - share this blog post or OutsideIN's FaceBook page or website with your friends.

Next time you're in Troy, stop by and pick out a fun new skirt or dress to add to your spring wardrobe!

(Photos used by permission, from OutsideIN's Facebook page.)

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Such a great idea!