From Hurricane Katrina survivor to becoming the founder of Wanda’s Hope Klozet, Wanda Knotts is determined to make a difference in the lives of others. Positively Gospel spoke with Knotts about why she feels compelled to help others.
Tell me how Wanda’s Hope Klozet was formed.
“My grandmother always taught me that you do it for the least of them and somebody gave me grace and I wanted to give that grace back to others. Five years ago as an educator just doing things for the students in the community and everything, I said I’m going to go back to where my roots were and what my grandmother always told me, to do it for the least of them. I live by the saying, if you can help someone along the way our labor won’t be in vain. With my upbringing in New Orleans, LA, I worked at different community events, had a business , a dancing school which was a spiritual dancing school that taught values and extended grace to others and grace was extended to us. I was working in impoverished schools as well. That gave me the desire to do something different. How could I use what God has given me, my talents and gifts to help others. Five years ago it just came to mind and I was thinking about it, but I’ve been doing it all my life of course. Being a southerner coming to the north, seeing some of the same issues and I wanted to let my gift make room for me and pretty much, it went from there.”
Was your desire to help others what led you into the field of education?
“Absolutely! As a fine arts educator I worked at the Boys & Girls Club, taught dance at the Boys & Girls Club in New Orleans I just always had that desire to work kids through their parents and yes it has always been a passion of mine.”
You are a Hurricane Katrina survivor. Were you immediately evacuated or because of your passion were you also able to help others?
“I had just accepted an education job maybe a week before Hurricane Katrina hit and I went home for the hurricane. I didn’t realize it. I just went home to do more paperwork for the school system I currently teach in. So I got caught up in the hurricane and had to rescue my grandparents out of the water. They had to be rescued to higher ground and eventually ended up in a shelter for 12 days. An angel came nearby and picked us up, we’re talking about dirty muddy water. I had to decide if I wanted to rescue my parents, my grandparents because at this time you don’t know what’s going on. We rescued them and drove to Baton Rouge for an hour and were shipped three hours later to a shelter where they provided the necessities. Then I was able to return to Maryland. That really made me more so feel if someone can help me and provide me grace when we had nothing so in turn I said God if you ever put me in a positon to do the same, please I will do it.”
How do you gather support for Wanda’s Hop Klozet?
“We reach out to different organizations, we are just being intentional about who wants to support this effort. We are just grateful that when we reach out, they respond. And also trusting God.”
What do you see as some of the greatest accomplishments for Wanda’s Hope Klozet?
“It would be my best service to the community, providing for the students at the school and when we can give the kids a scholarship banquet and give them things that they might not have seen or experienced. I like doing Warm Nights, feeding the homeless at different churches. My definite experience would be giving. I want provide for those who are underrepresented all around the USA and as a missionary helping out around the church.”
What lies ahead for Wanda’s Hope Klozet?
“Being able to provide those basic clothing and show needs for the underrepresented and their families around the USA. I want to be able to support children, women and families as they navigate through life’s challenges and hardships. And provide the necessities and whatever I can help them with. I will have plenty of partners and sponsorships and go from state to state and make sure that we reach the multitudes.”
On Saturday, February 13 from 8-11 a.m. Wanda’s Hope Clozet in collaboration with the Crossland High School Dance Company and their Community is hosting Coats for Children Pull-up and Pop the Trunk Coat Giveaway. It’s all taking place at Crossland High School 6901 Temple Hills Rd, Temple Hills, MD. For more information, Email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Community Events Chairperson is Joanne Cash email email@example.com or call 202-251-2262.
Wanda’s Hope Clozet is also in the early stages of planning they will have a backpack drive and distribution in August.