• Tue, May 11 2010

Derek Warburton On Growing Up Homeless – And Working With Bottomless Closet Now

Once upon a time there was a little boy who grew up with the perfect family, with the perfect parents, in the perfect house with a white picket fence… umm…that might be some people’s story, but definitely not mine.  My name is Derek Warburton. I have been dubbed a lifestyle guru and modern philanthropist; but I dub myself a survivor.

Survivor is a word that is used for a person who has come from adversity and beat the odds. Growing up with my biological mother was difficult.  My parents divorced when I was 10 years old and the next 5 years (until the day I left at 15) were financially and mentally challenging to say the least.

Our lowest point was when at 13 years old we were living in the woods with a tent and a 16ft trailer with no electricity or running water. While home alone one day, a fire broke out that destroyed the few belongings we had.  When my mother returned, I was immediately scorned. I was blamed for my lack of responsibility and letting things get out of control.  My heart sank and I ran away.

Days later I returned. There was a weak apology, but through it all, my mother sat me down and taught me a very valuable lesson. While I was gone, a program came from the fire department that helped families in need. They provided clothing along with many other services. She explained that everyone suffers in this world and the ones that suffer the most are the ones that are strong enough to live through it.

That incident was the catalyst for her to rebuild our lives. She had been working all along, but she was more determined than ever to turn our lives around. Within 6 months we were back in a home. Life had changed for us.  Even though I have many mixed feelings from that time, I will always give my mother credit for teaching me that you must find strength through adversity.

A year and a half ago, I started working with an organization called The Bottomless Closet.  I have a very dear friend whose company was involved with them and knew I had been looking for the right space to give my heart to. I wanted to do something as so many people do, but I didn’t want to just volunteer somewhere. I wanted to truly make a difference and bring something very personal to the table. You see I have been taken care of by women my entire life and now I want to give back to them.  The Bottomless Closet seemed a perfect fit as my family was helped by an organization that was very similar.

Bottomless Closet is a program based in New York City that services women that are survivors. They are in shelters, just out of jail, battered or just living below the poverty line.  The organization was started in 1996 by a group of volunteers in response to a New York Times article discussing the obstacles that under-privileged mothers had seeking work, appropriate interview clothing, and gaining the confidence to present themselves professionally.  Bottomless Closet’s premise of “women helping women” only aids in their overall empowerment- that women can help other women succeed.

Apart from their many workshops, I started a very special workshop called ” How to be Derek Fabulous” which is about “how to get fabulous within.” The workshop is based on feeling good about yourself no matter who or what you are.  “Derek Fabulous” is a fabulous that is worth fighting for- a fabulous that so many people in our country and our world seemed to have forgotten. It is a fabulous based off of a philosophy that I live by, HELP, TEACH, INSPIRE, LOVE and have FUN.

To learn more about how you can get involved with Bottomless Closet visit their homepage here.

From Our Partners

Share This Post: