Friday, April 8, 2011

Heart to God, Hand to Man

Here's an editorial I sent to the local newspaper recently.  About a year ago, a friend of mine told me that the food bank and low cost thrift shop were going to have to move.  This was due to the fact that the city was expanding a sorely under capacity water treatment plant.  Fortunately, the food bank was able to find a new home, thanks to some grant money. The low cost community service thrift shop, had been told by the city that they would not have to worry about a new home, and had not moved forward in finding a place.   Just a few months ago, it became apparent that the city intended to have the thrift shop location after all, and that they had washed their hands of any involvement with it.  This upset me, because I know many people for whom helping hands is a simple but powerful lifeline.  I visited a city council meeting and presented the below information, and spoke directly with the mayor and other council members.  It became evident again that the city was not able to help the thrift shop.  They need a local benefactor who is able to furnish them a building at a very low cost, and I am praying that they will find what they need.  We are currently caught up in some red tape with their 501c3 status, but once that's out of the way, we will move forward in getting them grants to help their organization to persist.  Here's the letter.....

"This thrift shop is a vital service both to the working class citizens of our city, and to the various service organizations to which it donates 100 percent of its proceeds. Last year, Cocoon House and the Boys & Girls Club were just a few of those organizations.
Anyone who has need of basic household things, such as clothes, dishes, toys ... anything you could find in a thrift store, is free to come to the thrift shop and fill a bag for just a few dollars.
I know many people who depend on this service. The thrift shop sets aside blankets and other items for people who lose their homes in fires. They give dry shoes to homeless people who walk in off the street.
Imagine you are single mom working at a grocery store, living in the city. It's winter. Your child needs a coat and you can't afford one.  Your dishes keep getting broken and you can't afford new ones ... you are struggling just to get food on the table. Your son just wore through the soles of his shoes and your daughter's pants are suddenly three inches too short. Your 2-year-old has a birthday coming up and you can't afford a gift. There is hope ... you can go to the thrift shop and get all of those things in a brown paper sack for just a few dollars. You can breathe easier and tend to the needs of your family with no stress.
I have been in conversation with the volunteers and board director of the thrift shop and found out that the shop will have to leave their building, currently provided by the city, so that the new water treatment plant has a place for their offices.
Unfortunately, the thrift shop is an organization with unpredictable income so they are not able to take on regular rent. Their income in one month can be as low as $500, so they need a benefactor. Their needs are simple: a building at ground level, as most of their volunteers are elderly. They told me that currently the city provides electricity and the building, but garbage and heating oil are provided by donation. They pay for their phone, and pay sales tax from their proceeds, and every penny remaining is donated to local charities.
If our the people of our city are serious about helping the citizens of our city in this time of economic distress, they will be serious about finding a home for the thrift shop.  Thankfully, the food bank was able to get a grant for a new place, but from what I understand the thrift shop is not eligible for a grant because they are technically a thrift store. I have also asked people to talk to their churches and people they know to see if anyone will take the thrift shop.
Please get the word out to all the citizens of our city. Let's find a home for the thrift shop.

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