Jo was a notable part of our experience at Pike Place Food Bank. She left such an imprint in our hearts that we decided we weren’t ready to say good-bye yet. We wanted to volunteer with her at the University Temple United Methodist Church on our last Friday in Seattle. Jo is so special to us because of her humor and the memories she brought back of our grandmas. Every Tuesday at the food bank, Jo was sneaking us Twinkies, granola bars, and any other snack she could get us to take. Throughout my childhood and into my adult life, my grandma used to do the same for her grandchildren. It was comforting to get this feeling so far from home.
Today was our first volunteer service at a church and thrift store. When we arrived, the church appeared small but we were given a tour and it was quite the opposite. It was amazing how much goes on here beyond congregation at masses or Sunday school. Ten years ago, a high school senior created the concept of the thrift store and hot lunch Fridays at the church. The proceeds from the thrift store pay for sleeping bags, backpacks, and underwear for the homeless and less fortunate in the community. After the shop closes, around 4 pm, they push everything back so they can utilize as much room as possible. That same space is used as a junior shelter for men every evening.
Approximately 100 people per week are fed at the church from 12 pm-1 pm. Each week, $50 from the thrift shop proceeds help provide the food and the rest is donated from local companies. The kitchen is run entirely by volunteers. The clothing, accessories, and housewares for the thrift shop are compiled of donations.
One of our jobs for the day was to go through some of the bags and determine which can be merchandised and what needed to be given to Goodwill. We were happily able to use our love for fashion. We worked alongside Jo organizing the merchandise displays, dressing mannequins, labeling, and filing things. As noon approached, it was time to serve food. Mel hopped in graciously offering to help wherever she was needed most. I continued the visual merchandising for the thrift shop, which was opening at 1:30 pm.
We loved our time spent here and working at a thrift shop—one of our favorite pastimes. We left there with bittersweet feelings. As we said goodbye to our new friends, they told us it was so nice to have fresh faces around and we better come back! Saying goodbye doesn’t come easy but it’s the road we call home.