Linda Durrence, who founded Blossom Boutique, which serves any fostered, adopted, and less fortunate children, shared her journey into the ministry of service to Glennville Rotarians on Wednesday, April 6.
She was introduced by Glennville Rotarian Charlton Rogers, who described Linda as a woman with a huge servant heart. Blossom Boutique provides free clothing and hygiene items to these children ages infant to high school who are in need.
Durrence commented that her heart for children had always been a part of her makeup, but when she and her husband lost their 27-year-old daughter, Kristin, in 2016, they were in a deep state of grief. The couple were living in Brunswick at the time, but moved back to Glennville the next year. After buying and living in the home of the late Jeff Armstrong, Mark’s cousin, they decided that country living was more preferable. They eventually bought the rural wooded property of Charles and Sondra Winge off Baxter-Durrence Road.
“We first met Juanita, Chelsea, and Princessa through our church of Connection Point in Reidsville, and at the time they were in foster care, having been removed from the care of their biological father. The girls soon came to live with us, with plans for Juanita and Princessa to go live with their grandmother. Chelsea began living with her boyfriend Slater’s parents, and Chelsea and Slater will be getting married later this year,” Durrence said.
“These girls literally came to us with a black trash bag half filled with tattered clothing, a couple of pairs of worn shoes, a toothbrush, and a hairbrush. These girls’ mother had been killed in 2015, and they have seen so much brokenness in their lives.
“We fell in love with the girls, but the plans were to have them to go live with their grandmother. However, Juanita and Princessa let us know that they had finally found peace and were tired of moving. These girls, before coming to us, had been beaten, starved, and abused by their biological father and had lived in two foster homes. I come from a family of nurturing mothers, and when Princessa told me one morning as I dropped her off to school of their wanting to stay with us, I felt God telling me what I needed to do. However, I told Him that He had 15 minutes to convince my husband. Yet, when I walked back into our home that morning, Mark knew from the tears on my face that these girls were staying. He has been wonderful with all these females in one household,” Durrence said.
Durrence has two other daughters (biological), Sara Durrence Santana and Madison Durrence. The grandmother of the girls agreed to their remaining with the Durrence family.
“From our own grieving over the loss of Kristin and the experiences of mothering Juanita, Chelsea, and Princessa, as well as Sara and Madison, Blossom was born. Mark and I love unconditionally, just like God loves us. We have watched these girls blossom with the love we feel for them and sharing the Word of God, too, into their lives. They have moved past the brokenness, and our tragedies have brought healing to all of us,” Durrence said.
“Within our Blossom Boutique, children are eligible for seven full sets of clothing every quarter and personal and hygiene items. These items are free of charge,” Durrence said.
The hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment only. To make a free shopping appointment for a foster, adopted, or less fortunate child, call (912) 654-3318.
“Blossom Thrift Store is adjacent to Blossom Boutique, and it is open to the public. It has extremely low prices, with many items just $1, such as a pair of jeans. These low prices are serving the community well by clothing full families at a very low cost. All proceeds to our mission of Blossom Boutique go to provide for less fortunate children and youths,” Durrence said.
Hours of operation are Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oftentimes, outside yard sales will be held in front of their building at 902 N. Veterans Blvd., Glennville, the former Jennifer’s School of Dance facility.
Both Blossom Boutique and Blossom Thrift Store are managed by Leslie Walker, Linda’s sister, who was formerly employed by the Department of Family and Children Services. She knows firsthand about the dire situations of so many foster children.
“This is just the beginning. Blossom is expanding in the near future. We are opening a store called Blossom Originals in the former space occupied by Free to Roam Boutique. Blossom Originals will include throw pillows, recovered furniture, candles, jellies, jams, baby clothes, t-shirts, decor, etc., all created by Blossom’s Team and Community. Blossom Originals’ proceeds will go to funding the Blossom Boutique and a future Education Center,” Durrence said.
The website for Blossom is blossomsoutheast.com.