For the remainder of the week through Saturday, May 6, 2017 in Casper Rescued Treasures Thrift Store, a Wyoming Rescue Mission program, holds its Grand Opening celebration in their new location at 2935 E 2nd Street (right next door to Hobby Lobby). Brad Hopkins, Executive Director for Wyoming Rescue Mission, along with members of the community and other Rescue Mission staff, kicked off the celebration with a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday, May 3, 2017. The celebration continues with contests to win a 55” Samsung flat screen television and $100 gift card, as well as $50 gift cards for the Thrift Store.
Moving into the new location brings new opportunity to the store and the Mission, according to Michael Cavalier, Media Coordinator for Wyoming Rescue Mission.
“At our old location we funded a good portion of our operating costs with our old store, so the hope is with our new store that it’s going to be even more of a benefit to those in need,” he said.
The new building is a welcome improvement over their longtime North Casper location. Even though the two buildings have roughly the same square footage, the new sales floor layout and open floor plan roughly double the sales floor space coming in around 16,000 sq. ft. compared to the old location, according to Chris Darr, Chief Financial Officer at Wyoming Rescue Mission.
More space means the WRM needed to fill it with more stuff.
“It was a bit of a step in faith when we moved locations. We did what we could logistically to have enough to fill the store when we first opened, but really it came down to the public support,” said Cavalier. “They rose to the occasion. Of course it ebbs and flows and we’re short on donations, but a Facebook post solves that problem because the community rallies, which is cool.”
Thrift store prices mean more value for shoppers, but when the public shops with or donates to Rescued Treasures it means much more than one may realize.
“Everything from the store goes back to what we’re doing at the rescue mission,” Cavalier said. “Everything from the basics: food, shelter, all the way up to what we’re doing in our discipleship programs which is our 12 month program. When you shop here, you’re not just buying here, you’re giving back to the mission.”
In addition to helping to fun the Mission’s efforts, Rescued Treasures serves a purpose in the recover process for Guests of the Mission.
“Our Discipleship Program Guests are required to do 10 hours of service throughout the organization whether it’s in the Kitchen, Laundry or in the store,” said Darr. “A big part of it is at the store and they have the opportunity to learn different skills as they progress through the program, whether that’s just stocking or merchandizing all the way up to running the registers and openings and closings.”
“The store exists really as a spot where the folks that are in our recovery program can begin to get back into the job market,” Hopkins further explained. “Now they’re not necessarily getting paid, but we don’t charge for any of the services at the Rescue Mission, so it’s a way that they can give back. Then they also get those practical job skills; just to be back working and productive again is such a critical part of the recovery process.”
Many of the homeless population of Wyoming are dealing with more than just lack of shelter.
“We all have these intrinsic gifts and abilities. And you know, a number of them have struggled with real chronic addiction issues and mental illness and for whatever reason they get in that fog and think that they have no value in life, that there’s no purpose and they kind of get into this pattern of self-destructive behavior. So this is really their first step.
It’s [the store] the way out of the fog for them. I’ve had some of guests comment: ‘Brad I didn’t even know I had this ability. I’ve spent so much of my time pursuing this addiction,’ or many of them had been raised in very dysfunctional, abusive backgrounds, so when they’ve been devalued their whole lives, they tend to think that way about themselves.”
When we trust them with valuable merchandise and greeting customers, it lifts their esteem and gives them a sense of pride in their work, Hopkins said.
Bernadette Eddy is one of the graduates with a success story from her time at Wyoming Rescue Mission.
“For me, my story is a bit different from everybody else’s. I lost all hope in humanity as it was,” she said. “Circumstances that arose that I had no control over and it caused me to lose hope. I went straight into the discipleship program right away because I had lost faith too, along the way even though I’d been a Christian my whole life. When you lose faith in humanity you lose it in every aspect of your life. And I knew that something was missing.
Just being amongst the fellowship of fellow Christians just means everything to me. Now being employed with Rescued Treasures, I really feel like I’m in the true body of Christ where we’re all working together for the Lord.”
Eddy stresses the importance of the attitudes of the people that work in the program in her recovery.
“The people that work the program. The people that are all involved; they’re all very important,” she said. “They all play a very vital part. If it wasn’t for those people, the amount of time and effort that they put into it, it’s not a job to them. It’s a calling and you can tell that a mile away. I’m just those thankful that they’re there.”