The only girl of four, and also the youngest by far – her brothers were 9, 12 and 14 years older – Kelly McMurry grew up doted on by her family and was “always a girlie girl,” she says.
And, “fashion has always been a part of my life,” she says. “As I look back on all the things I’ve done, always, always, I’ve had a love of clothing.”
As a girl, up until fifth grade, she modeled Catalina Sportswear at Henshaw’s Department Store in Whittier, California. “I would go up to the ladies eating their lunch and tell them about my outfit,” she recalls.
McMurry spent 15 years in banking, first in California, then in Seattle. She became a stay-at-home mom after her daughter was born and the family moved to Boise in 2001. “Desperate to meet new people,” McMurry began dipping her toes into volunteerism. She founded an annual Easter egg hunt for 200+ families and co-founded the Idaho Moms Network, both of which are still going strong. She also was president of the Spaulding Elementary PTA in 2009 and 2010.
Then, she found her niche.
“Feeling a need to give back to my community, I started The Closet in 2010,” McMurry says. It’s a way to make a difference and incorporate her love for clothing and fashion and teenagers, she says. The Closet is a clothing shop for teenagers, mostly from sixth to 12th grades, and specifically teens who are at risk or homeless or in low-income families
or dire situations. McMurry schedules 1-hour private appointments for “a private shopping event” to ensure her clients can make the fashion statement they want. All clothing is offered free of charge through community donations.
To date, she has served kids by working with Boise and West Ada school districts, juvenile corrections, the Department of Health and Welfare, homeless shelters, school resource officers and counselors, and other community agencies and organizations.
“Three thousand kids have come through the door since I opened,” McMurry says. “No questions asked here. I wouldn’t trade teenagers for anything, they’re absolutely my favorite group,” she says. “They can be hard to connect with – I consider that a challenge.”
McMurry has received local notoriety and recognition for her service. She was a KTVB Sevens Hero and was the Pioneer Federal Credit Union’s 2016 First Place community Pioneer.
In a letter recommending McMurry for this award, Molly Patchin, district social worker for the West Ada School District, says she sends students to Kelly because “I know they are receiving more than clothes. They receive an hour of positive individualized attention from someone who cares and wants to help take some stress and pressure off of their situation. Not only does a student walk away feeling love, but parents do as well.”
McMurry considers her greatest accomplishments her marriage and her children. “I have been married to Matt for 26 years and have two beautiful children, Morgan, 18, and Evan, 15.
She says her inspiration comes from God. “Without God, I am nothing. He gives me what I need for one more day. And one more day. And one more day.
“I have been surrounded by love – always – and what a beautiful thing. I give that back, too. That’s how I reap what I sow.”