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Recycling Stuff, Recycling Lives

January 2000
By: Marjori Masitto Krause

The manufacturing process takes raw materials and transforms them into a product that has a predicted useful life. At the end of that normal life, many products are discarded when they could be recycled.

In the recycling process, when a product has finished its useful life, instead of being thrown away, it is set aside by caring, conscientious hands and sent to a reclamation center. Ultimately, the material from recycled items is remanufactured into new useful products, or, in some cases, the item itself can be cleaned and restored to useful life for a new owner.

The Pregnancy Support Center (PSC) of Valdosta, Georgia, is recycling client lives through their Thrift Store and Housing Center. In 1998 executive director Sharon Cook recognized the need to help her clients recycle their lives. Prior to opening the housing center, the PSC for several years had occupied the little white house on the corner. They had offered counseling services to young women dealing with unplanned pregnancies. When the opportunity came to buy the large, handsome Victorian house nearby, God provided the funds.

The Thrift Store, located just across the street from the PSC and the Housing Center, is supplied by donations of clothes, baby care items, and other articles solicited by the local Christian radio station. The Thrift Store building is a former dry cleaning establishment. Women who are clients of the PSC clean, press, spruce up, and make ready for sale the contributed items. While they run the store, they gain valuable retail work experience. Living in the caring Christian atmosphere of the Housing Center and working in the Thrift Store gives these young women a chance to recycle their lives, their work records, and their financial conditions. What's more, the program requires no government or community funding to run. In fact, it actually creates enough profit to help support the PSC's overall mission of helping young women.

The Thrift Store has been aptly named The Repeat Boutique. Almost any non-perishable necessity can be found at The Repeat Boutique, such as, clothing, furniture, household items, jewelry, and books.

The benefits for the women who work at the boutique are numerous. One of the benefits is the ability for the women to stay at the Housing Center free of charge. Many clients are homeless or not able to return to their homes when they decide to keep their babies. Another benefit is being able to redeem store credits in exchange for the hours they have worked. This enables the women to buy necessities for themselves and their babies. A real, though less tangible, benefit for the boutique workers is the opportunity to meet, interact, and develop relationships with people who support and work with the center.

Not everyone can afford to give money to the PSC. The Repeat Boutique provides a method for anyone, including those who are unable to contribute monetarily, to donate items that can be sold and serve a second, useful life. Whether the PSC clients themselves purchase the items with work credits or whether the items are sold, the PSC ministry derives a benefit.

Gospel tracts are placed inside the bag holding each customer's purchases from the store. As Sharon Cook explains, "[the Thrift Store] increases the scope of our evangelistic efforts." In many ways it increases the number of lives that are recycled for a new Owner.


Marjori Masitto Krause, B.S., is an Account Executive for Marketing Partners, Inc. She can be reached at 1-800-588-7744 or marjori@mkpt.com.



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