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Sometimes personal catastrophes and the resulting struggle can serve as a catalyst for tremendous good. In one instance, a family tragedy inspired a Louisville woman to create a ministry that now serves thousands.

In 2002, Linda Gottbrath lost her beloved son to suicide. For a long time, she was lost, but eventually found her salvation in helping others, which made coping with her own loss easier.

Gottbrath created and runs the Sitio Clothing Ministry, which provides free clothing to about 5,000 poor and needy people each year in the South Louisville neighborhood.

Sitio, which is Latin for “I Thirst,” was originally started by Gottbrath in the basement of her home. To accommodate the growth of the ministry, Sitio has recently moved into a former first grade classroom at the old St. John Vianney School in Louisville.

The clothing ministry collects all types of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, including pants, shirts, coats, shoes, and blankets. The ministry also recently partnered with a local diaper bank to received diaper donations for its clients.

Following her son’s death, Gottbrath become involved with her parish’s St. Vincent de Paul chapter. When she discovered that the chapter was giving out clothing vouchers, she thought it would be more efficient and economical to collect and distribute clothing donations.

In addition to provide much-needed necessities to those most in need, Gottbrath is also a great example and inspiration to others, showing how personal tragedies and setbacks can be channeled into charitable actions that can benefit thousands.