EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. – The memory of his sister inspired Lowell native Dan Bisson to start the nonprofit Catie’s Closet with his family.
What You Need To Know
- Lowell native Dan Bisson started the Catie’s Closet nonprofit after the death of sister Catie Bisson who died in 2010 at the age of 20
- Catie’s Closet operates in areas where they’re able to serve able to serve a minimum of 50 schools and 50,000 students while supplying them with clothing and other basic needs
- According to CEO Mickey Cockrell, around 30,000 students between Chicopee, Springfield, Holyoke and East Longmeadow are economically disadvantaged
- Catie’s Closet owns three distribution centers, one of which just opened in East Longmeadow
Catie Bisson passed away in 2010 at the age of 20. Dan said she was well respected by the Lowell Public School system.
“They asked my parents if they wanted to do a scholarship,” Bisson said. “And they didn’t want to do that. They didn’t want to do something that would only help one student for a year and then disappear. They thought about what they wanted to do and there had been a newspaper article that came out earlier that year talking about homeless students at Lowell High and other schools around Lowell.”
The financial burden many students faced shocked Bisson’s family. They, along with the school, soon created the first student closet in Lowell High School.
Bisson said it was supposed to be only at the time, until several phone calls afterward led the program to expand even further, eventually leading to three distribution centers, including one in East Longmeadow.
“Before you know it, then years later this is now our third distribution center out here in western Mass. after opening one in Boston,” Bisson said. “I mean, after even after opening one distribution center in my grandmother’s basement for a few years and then a dentist office.”
Catie’s Closet operates in areas where they’re able to serve a minimum of 50 schools and 50,000 students while supplying them with clothing and other basic needs. According to CEO Mickey Cockrell, around 30,000 students between Chicopee, Springfield, Holyoke and East Longmeadow are economically disadvantaged.
Both Bisson and Cockrell said having toiletries and clothing on school campuses are important because it allows students who may not feel comfortable going to school due to financial issues a reason to attend.
“They can get the things they need and now they’re at school,” Bisson said. “You hear all these things about kids who are absent, chronically absent because they have old clothes that don’t fit and that is just not OK. We need to take to care of them.”