Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Joyce Nealey, Key Largo

Going Wear, a clothes closet for the Upper Keys
“I have lived in the Keys for almost 27 years. Michael and I got married in October of ’89 and we moved down after we got married. Michael didn’t think he would ever get married again, and then he met me!
Michael had been coming to the Keys since he was 15. He had bought a house down here so he could go fishing and such, and have a home for his parents. He traveled a lot then and bought it as a ‘home’ base. When we got married, we made it our home.
My parents are missionaries and I grew up in India. I have always had a heart to serve people, it is in my nature. I am a nurse and have worked at Homestead Hospital for 22 ½ years. I knew when I was 8 years old I wanted to be a nurse, I just knew it and there has never been a doubt.
My parents lived up in Pennsylvania and their church had a clothes closet. My dad was a visiting pastor at the church and every time I would go up there, he would let me go to the clothes closet and check out the cloths. That idea always stuck in the back of my mind.
Down here, we have a lot of food opportunities. We have food banks, but there aren’t any clothes opportunities. Islamorada has a little clothes closet, but there is nothing here in the upper Keys. The idea from my father’s church was still in the back of my mind, and was then in my heart.
I tried to start a clothes closet in Tavernier down by the airport. The logistics didn’t really work out; being by the airport and it was too far south. One day, on the way home from church, Michael said he had an idea; why didn’t we get mom’s motor home and use it? She had wanted us to have it anyhow and it wasn’t in great shape so she couldn’t really sell it. We had a friend who was a ‘jack of all trades’ so he fixed it up, gutted it for us, and set up hanging bars and shelves. ‘Going Wear’, was born.
I had been talking about it and had been receiving cloths donations and organizing. Well, life happens, I brought my mom to live with me and I worked on the closet, but it was delayed for a year. After mom passed, I started moving forward with Going Wear again. ‘Resource Magazine’ is doing a story about the clothes close, so that was my kick in the pants to finish the details.
Michael saw a man one day with ripped, tattered jeans on and invited him to come by and pick new jeans and a couple of t-shirts. It is great to be able to do that. I met a mom and daughter in the hospital who didn’t have anything and were being discharges; I took them some clothes, but I don’t want to pick clothes for people I want them to make their own choices. I am taking Going Wear to them.
I made my official debut at First Baptist last week. My plan is to take Going Wear to First Baptist Church (on MM 99) every first Wednesday of the month and to Burton Memorial on Thursdays, when they serve their meals. My schedule will expand and I’ll go to more places, but Going Wear is a baby right now, it will grow and we will take it to more locations. Eventually I want to be at a different location every evening of the week. I have a dream for Going Wear and am so excited to execute. I have a tendency to go 100mph right out of the gate and I am trying to slow myself down and ease into this.
My goal is to go back to school for nutrition. I help people in the hospital and have for 22 years. It’s time to start helping them out of the hospital.
Right now though, Going Wear is where my heart is. I know this is what I am supposed to be doing and I am excited to do it.”
To donate clothes, please email Joyce at
Be sure to put ‘CLOTHES’ in the subject line.
Baby and Kids clothes/shoes are her greatest need right now.
If you would like to express a need or someone in need, you can email her or PM HOK and we will extend her phone number.

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