• New second-hand store to focus on furniture, appliances, family clothing
Add a new shopping stop to the Saturday list of errands in Haven House’s Homer Thrift Shop set to open at 9 a.m. Saturday in the shopping center by the East End Road Mini Storage.
Located next to Cycle Logical, the new store offers 700 square feet and will focus on selling couches, chairs and other furniture, household goods and appliances. There are also a sizable number of racks of clothing for women and children, books, puzzles and accessories.
Haven House is starting a new employment project in opening the shop. Executive Director Jessica Lawmaster said the primary purpose of opening the thrift shop is to raise funding and support employment training for clients of the shelter.
“The core reason is to supply an economic empowerment piece. The secondary reason is to make good use of our donations so that people can really give and feel like their donation goes back into the shelter,” Lawmaster said.
The shelter for women and children receive a lot of donations and if they do not have a client in need of them at the time, they donate them elsewhere.
Women will be able to receive job training and work experience at the store during closed hours, so that when they leave, they will have training, job skills, and a work reference to aid them in seeking employment. Some of the most prevalent challenges facing women are economic-related barriers. Economic empowerment is a major focus of Haven House’s over the next five years, Lawmaster said.
To help get this project off the ground, Wells Fargo has donated $5,000 to Haven House, with the challenge to the community to match those funds in donations. David Kennedy, Wells Fargo spokesman, said the bank also will supply customer service training for the thrift shop’s employees. Lawmaster said she is hoping other businesses also will offer training in retail areas.
For November, the store will only be open on Saturdays. Watch for Thursdays to be added in December. Haven House’s goals, set by the board of directors, are two fold in the coming year: one is to see the thrift shop reach economic stability in sustained jobs for clients. The other is setting a strategic plan to launch a new fundraising project for more space. The shelter was stretched beyond its housing capacity in recent years.
The current building on Lake Street contains small cramped offices downstairs and the 10-bed shelter upstairs that often needs to shelter more than 10 people.
“Until a month ago, we were full or over-full since last winter. That has not been historically true,” Lawmaster said. “Normally, those numbers bounce up and down.”
Lawmaster has been with the shelter four years, appointed by the board after a competitive hiring process when Director Peg Coleman left. She originally came to Homer from Oklahoma where she had specialized in forensic interviewing of sexual assault victims. On the Kenai Peninsula, her position entailed developing Child Advocacy Centers in Homer, Kenai and Seward. She also has served as interim director in Coleman’s place during sabbatical.
The new employment focus for the next five years is meant to help empower the clients in a new direction. “That is the biggest challenge: employment opportunities are lacking and that is the biggest barrier they face,” Lawmaster said.
As for donating guidelines to Homer Thrift, Lawmaster said they do not accept electronics or products with chemicals, such as cans of paint or cleaning products. “We’re hoping to generate donations of furniture, large appliances and clothing,” she said.
Also desirable at this time of year are winter coats, boats and accessories for children and women, as well as household goods.
Donation hours are 2-5 p.m. Sunday at the store, smaller items are accepted at Haven House or by appointment at the store. Call 235-7712 for information.
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