Trendy Transitions—Patients Donate Clothes to Support Fellow Patients During Their Weight-Loss Journeys
Steven Barnett is very personable and he knows clothes, thanks to a 50-year-career in New York’s garment district, mostly as an importer of outerwear and sportswear. So one of his current volunteer positions — running a clothing exchange program for patients who had bariatric surgery at Princeton Medical Center (PMC) — seems tailor-made for him.
Yet the program, called Trendy Transitions, actually predates Barnett, making its debut in 2015, said Donna Post, bariatric coordinator for PMC’s Center for Bariatric Surgery & Metabolic Medicine.
It began informally. Patients who had lost weight after surgery would bring clothes to support group meetings and offer to share. The situation was a win-win, Post said: It was cathartic for patients to give away clothes that no longer fit, and it greatly benefited patients who were just beginning their journey.
“You’re not in clothes for long when you’re losing weight after surgery, and it gets expensive to keep buying new ones,” said Post.
Soon, Post was taking in more donations than one person could easily handle. An office in the Medical Arts Pavilion was converted into a few hundred square feet of walk-in closet space, and sturdy racks were installed along two walls to hang donated clothes.
Post found it challenging to manage Trendy Transitions alongside her other responsibilities, so she reached out to Volunteer Services about a year and a half ago seeking assistance.
As fate would have it, Barnett, a recent retiree from the Princeton Junction area, had just inquired about volunteering at PMC.
“I was looking for ways to give something back to the community,” Barnett said.
When he met with Edward Callahan, director of Volunteer Services, and Ashley Chia, supervisor, they suggested the clothing exchange would be a perfect fit.
Barnett has been helping to manage Trendy Transitions ever since, processing donations, displaying the clothes in the converted office, and helping patients who need to find a smaller wardrobe. Post refers patients to Barnett and he takes it from there. He normally spends one day a week at the Trendy Transitions office. Patients are welcome to shop when he cannot be there. (The door is always open.)
If they need help, Barnett can be available by appointment, although his days are relatively full. He also volunteers with Meals on Wheels and Jewish Family & Children's Services and serves one day a week as a Redcoat Ambassador at PMC, escorting patients and visitors around campus.
Barnett clearly takes pride in Trendy Transitions. The clothing racks are fully stocked and meticulously organized, and clutter in the room is kept to a minimum. The clothes are generally high quality, and they include everything from business suits to jeans and other casual apparel.
Any used clothing is recently laundered or dry cleaned. Many items, purchased just before or during the original owner’s weight loss, are lightly worn. Some have not been worn at all and still bear their price tags, Barnett said.
Patients will often use the Trendy Transitions service until they reach their “forever size,” when they will then purchase a new, long-term wardrobe, Post said.
She and Barnett are hoping to inspire even greater use of Trendy Transitions among both surgical patients and individuals in the weight management program at the Center for Bariatric Surgery & Metabolic Medicine.
To donate or receive clothes, please call Steven Barnett at 609.529.5707
About Penn Medicine Princeton Health
Penn Medicine Princeton Health is one of the most comprehensive healthcare systems in New Jersey, providing acute care hospital services through Princeton Medical Center; behavioral healthcare through Princeton House Behavioral Health; in-home nursing, rehabilitation and hospice care through Princeton HomeCare; primary and specialty care through Princeton Medicine Physicians; ambulatory surgery and wellness services. For more information, visit www.princetonhcs.org. Penn Medicine Princeton Health is part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS), which, together with the University of Pennsylvania’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, forms Penn Medicine, one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research and excellence in patient care.
Andy Williams, 609-252-8785