Beautiful U: More Than Just a Resale Store


Photo By Abbey Mondi

A look inside to the racks of clothing at Beautiful U, a resale shop and ministry located in Elburn. Beautiful U ministries and resale shops help house homeless mothers.

     Reusing items is a great way to reduce our carbon footprint, but there’s more than that going on inside the doors of Beautiful U. A shop that’s located in downtown Elburn, Beautiful U is mainly known as a resale shop that’s filled to the brim with everything from clothes to furniture. What most people don’t know is that the shop is a part of a ministry. This ministry´s sole purpose is to help and house homeless mothers. All the profits made from the shop go directly to the moms and their children. 

     ¨The ministry has a board of directors, and the resale shop is a subset of the ministry,¨  store manager Patricia Neagley said. 

     Beautiful U´s journey of helping mothers started in 2010. The founders felt they needed to do something about the increasing number of homeless mothers in the area. In the end, they decided that they wanted to provide a home for these mothers and their children.

     When the ministry first started to house mothers, it was all just by satellite homes. A satellite home is when a family would take in a mother to help them throughout their pregnancy and their infant’s early stages in life. In order for a family to be able to house a mother, they would have to go through an interviewing process. This was to make sure all the moms and their children would be in a safe, loving home. Beautiful U gets calls from various places to house mothers. 

     ¨All the calls that come into the agency are from local high schools, from local service agencies, family intervention agencies, homeless shelters like Lazarus house and pregnancy centers,¨ Executive Director Lilly Sheehan said. 

     In the satellite homes, the mothers would learn life skills like cooking, cleaning and finances. These are skills that would hopefully help them to eventually live on their own. The mothers would live in the home for 12-15 months to gain the necessary skills. After that time was up, the mothers would then move on and live independently. The only option of housing was satellite homes until September 2020, when a new transitional facility was in the works. 

     ¨It’s like a family-style intervention and it’s set up like a home, and our intent is to have house parents running the program,¨ Sheehan said. 

     While the satellite homes will still be available, there will also be the option of the transitional living home, which would be able to house more mothers all at once. There are many decisions to be made as to whether a mother would be placed into a satellite home or the new transitional living center. 

     ¨The deciding factor for whether the moms go to the transitional living center or the satellite family would be age. So, under 18 they’ll go live with the satellite family, so that they have that more one-on-one personal time and attention. The satellite family might also be someone that we think needs more life skills or more support,¨Sheehan said. 

     This new transitional facility, much like the satellite homes, has the intent to help and teach the mothers. This new home is much like a normal cozy house with singular rooms for every mom and child, along with a communal kitchen and social area. The new facility is able to let the mothers live in the house for a couple of years. This allows them time to get a job and maybe a higher level of education.

     ¨They’re required to, like I said, go through programming for education, cooking and finance,¨ Sheehan said. 

     Beautiful U is solely a volunteer-based ministry. The volunteers do everything from working in the shop to working alongside the mothers. With approximately 25 regular volunteers, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. In the store, the volunteers work the register, as well as helping to price and put away the various items. Since all items are donated, many of the volunteers also work in the warehouse, which holds all the overstock. 

     The volunteers who help outside of the store do various jobs like making advertisements, completing various graphic design projects, planning events and running social media pages. There are also several volunteers like Sheehan who do it all. As the Executive Director, she plans and organizes everything from the warehouse to the transitional living center. Every volunteer has a role and plays a small part in the big picture. 

     ¨The tangible outcome for myself is that it is just rewarding to come in here and talk to the customers and work with the other volunteers,¨ volunteer Terry Marchese said.