- Associated Press - Friday, June 30, 2017

PROVO, Utah (AP) - When Pleasant Grove resident Jazmine Edwards was a single mom, things were difficult. She said it was things like budgeting and finding babysitting that she struggled with the most.

Now, she’s working to make it at least a little bit easier for single moms and anyone who needs extra help to be successful with her nonprofit, Utah Girls Love You, and thrift store.

“It’s truly my passion to help other women,” Edwards said. “So this is my way to give back and help others and help kids and help them change their view. I’m always hearing I can’t, so we are giving them solutions of how they can.”

Utah Girls Love You, or UGLY, focuses on helping people get back on their feet. Through UGLY’s Closet, the thrift store Edwards runs in Pleasant Grove, she makes sure that all the clothes and home goods are affordable and at a price she could have paid for as a single mom.

But she also combines that with classes on budgeting, meal preparation and car maintenance in the hopes that the people she helps gain the skills they need to be self-sufficient.

“I love that we have the capability to just say, ‘Go ahead,’ and give it (items) to someone if they are in need,” Edwards said. “That’s not just single moms. If we see a family in need, we help. … We really are truly a judge-free zone.”

Edwards said she’s always been focused on helping others in whatever way she could.

“This is something that came natural to me as people gave me their items, I would find places for them,” she said. “So I started with one of our single moms and it just kind of developed out of that.”

So she started UGLY, which gets its names from the letters she saw on the mountainside as a child, out of her home and a storage unit in 2014 before expanding to the storefront in Pleasant Grove last year.

“I wasn’t sure (if this would work); I really wasn’t. I had so many items and wondered what can I do with this,” Edwards said. “As we pursued the nonprofit designation, I said, ‘Could I open a thrift store like DI (Deseret Industries) or Savers and then give the real price?’ I feel, and my moms are seeing this, that they will go to other stores and they can’t afford it.”

The things Edwards and UGLY are doing might seem small, but the effects resonate.

“I love to mentor the women and help build their confidence. I think that’s the most important and key for them to start educating themselves,” she said. “Because they are afraid of all of it, but if we can build up confidence, educate them and get them on a real path, I can see us changing generations.”

Edwards said the community has welcomed her efforts and done their best to help.

They are always looking for donations of reusable and clean items and volunteers to help out.

Sherry Sheehan is one of the people that regularly volunteers her time to sort, organize and help maintain UGLY’s Closet.

She said Edwards‘ personality has made UGLY’s Closet a place she enjoys being.

“I was one of Jazmine’s first people that walked in, and I just love her. She’s got the best personality ever. I like coming in and talking to her. She’s pretty down to Earth to talk to.”

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Information from: The Daily Herald, https://www.heraldextra.com

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