In 1997, Wright met Michele Bennett, her wife, through mutual friends. The two started growing their family by fostering children beginning in 2003. The couple adopted their first child in 2004 and added three more in 2007, 2010, and 2020. It was during their time as foster parents that Wright realized how few resources were available for foster children and the families caring for them. Additionally, the annual clothing stipend for a child in foster care in the State of Arizona was reduced from $300 to $150, which is where it remains today.
“I often saw foster kids wearing clothes that didn’t fit and they didn’t look comfortable” said Wright. “Foster kids have so many things that they are burdened with and having a shirt on their back shouldn’t be one of them. I felt like a clothing bank was something that our community could do for them. They have as much right to dignity as the rest of us.”
Wright started reaching out to foster licensing agencies and other foster organizations to get the word out about Spreading Threads Clothing Bank as a resource. She had to convince them that she was operating a trustworthy organization for foster children and families that had no strings attached.
“I reached out to anyone who had involvement with foster care and foster families to let them know they could tell their families that we were here,” Wright added. “It took a lot of time to get to know these folks and get them to understand that they could trust me. I really wanted them to communicate that to their families. I want these agencies to be able to refer their families to us and know that they will get what they need and it won’t be a waste of their time.”
Additionally, Wright joined other foster organizations to further educate herself about the law and needs of modern foster families of all kinds. She became a member of the Foster Care Review Board which allowed her to ask questions of foster families to determine what they really needed.
“One of the best ways to learn is to just listen to the people that are involved in the system,” Wright said of launching Spreading Threads Clothing Bank. “I want them to tell me what their struggles are. We need continuous feedback channels or we end up using the same format over and over again. Whatever we did, I knew it would have to be fluid and flexible.”
For Wright, the best part of volunteering her time to operate Spreading Threads is giving people the sense that someone cares while connecting them with other community resources. She said the biggest gift she has received through her work is creating human connections through Spreading Threads.
“One of the greatest things about this is seeing the foster families connect and share ideas and have that sense of belonging because you can feel very isolated,” said Wright. “This really brings people together. It’s a safe place where they can interact with foster parents that are licensed by other agencies. There are very few venues where we can get together, talk, share ideas, and support each other.”
In her spare time, Wright said she enjoys cooking, baseball and making people laugh.
“I really rejoice in sharing different venues and events where people can enjoy other people,” Wright said.