‘Only One Amy’ giving out hope for the holidays

Published 12:05 am Thursday, December 8, 2022

SALISBURY — Amy Callahan knows how hard it can be for people who don’t have a home to go to during the holiday season, especially when it gets colder outside. Callahan was once homeless, but now has a house in Salisbury where she is dedicated to giving back to the community that has helped her get back on her feet after struggling for so long.

Callahan has started using donated blankets, clothes and other materials to make new outfits for the homeless under her own brandname “Only One Amy” with the assistance of Rowan Helping Ministries.

“I only do one, I never make duplicates of anything. So all of my originals are for the person only,” Callahan said.

Callahan stresses the importance of recognizing the homeless not as a category of people, but as individuals with their own backgrounds and reasons for their situation.

“I want to bring the community together. My vision is to change the world. There should not be any homeless here, there should not be domestic violence here, there should not be a lot of things that are going on. We all need to pull together instead of worrying about everything on the outside,” Callahan said.

For people in less fortunate circumstances, essentials like clothing can mean life or death when the temperatures drop at night during the winter. Callahan knows that just having a blanket doesn’t ward off the cold and carrying a light load around with you is important. Having the same material as actual clothing goes a long way to the health and wellbeing of those people.

“It’s easier to wear it. Nobody can take it because it’s on your body and you’re completely covered and warm,” Callahan explained. “I wanted to show people how to repurpose, instead of throwing it away making things new. Then it got a little deeper than that. I started thinking about when I was on the street and how hard it was. People are all clumped in one category because they’re misunderstood.”

Callahan originally started making clothes for herself and her service dog Gracie Mae, slowly learning how to sew. Over time, making clothes was therapeutic for her and she later began doing it for other people. She has gotten to the point where she can make around two dresses per day and four “Happy Hats” per day that she calls them. She uses everything from blankets, jeans, sweatshirts and scarves for her handmade creations.

“Everything is made unique because that, for me, puts a spin on it for them to feel special. ‘Someone created this for me!’ Instead of ‘Here’s a pair of jeans’ or ‘Here’s a blanket,’ ‘Somebody has created this just for me.’ It’s about making people feel human again. Giving them something to bring them up out of the gutters,” Callahan said.

Callahan wishes someday that she can start selling her other handmade clothes to help support herself, but she wants to emphasize the work that she is doing with Rowan Helping Ministries is about giving back to others in need.

“This is not about me making a dollar, this is about me giving back to people who helped me and I want other people to have that experience with me kind of giving a little bit of my heart to them so they feel appreciated and human,” Callahan said.

Along with Rowan Helping Ministries supporting her “Only One Amy” brand, her neighbor Martha Smith has helped donate material that went towards most of the men’s clothes this year. All of the rest of the material was donated by people in the area.

“I don’t have any money on me to go buy anything. So, none of this would’ve happened had it not been for donations,” Callahan confessed.

Eventually, Callahan wants to speak with other women’s groups about her story and what can be done to help others. Her mother, Brenda Williams, is proud of her daughter and all of the work she’s done to get to this point in her life.

“I’ve watched her go from being incredibly creative and able to do things to not being able to do much of anything and to see this come back alive, I’m grateful to the people that have helped her,” Williams said.