It's now been 7 months since we took over the op shop. It's been an amazing time and when we stop long enough to think about it we are amazed at what has happened over that time. We've got a number of new volunteers, we continue to build good community, we've cleaned and rearranged the shop, we've got some good systems in place. Things that we would name as God/life moments in some way seem to happen very often.
Here's a few stories:
- a regular customer comes in most weeks with things from her garden or something she has made
- we dreamed of the op shop being a place to help people back into the workforce (we pictured this would be a long way off). People who are in this situation for various reasons have come to us as volunteers and their experience in the shop is being transformative.
- we've been commited to keeping wastage and our impact on the environment as low as possible (hard for an op shop!). This has meant that we have been in contact with a number of different organisations and donating clothes to a number of places who need them (eg. local supported accomodation places)
- we've currently got 10 school students involved in the shop, from 5 different schools. Many of these are students doing their community service part of things like Duke of Ed.
- one of our volunteers, Nick, died a few weeks ago and it was an immense privilege to walk with others close to him a bit during this time (please do pray for Nick's family). We miss Nick and have certainly walked the process of grief ourselves too.
- having regular days where sales takings are above budget.
- people who have been regulars in the shop for years are now involved as volunteers.
So yes it's exciting! Of course, there are days, hours and issues which are long and hard, but the stories of life certainly outweigh those times.
What are our current needs?
- Our biggest need is people!
We've had an amazing number of people volunteer, but most of these due to age, ability or comfort level are not able to be responsible for the shop at a given time. So we are particularly looking for people who would be able to give 4 hours (weekday morning, 9-1, or afternoon, 1-4, or Sat 10-2) to the shop and who would be happy and able to take that kind of role. As you can tell from the stories above, it's as much about building community amongst the volunteers and customers as it is about the running of the shop, although that of course is part of it. If you are interested but
couldn't do every week, it's still worth talking with me (eg. We have one person who does a Saturday every 4-6 weeks). As well as looking for people who can do regular weekly/fortnightly times, it would be great to have people we can call on when one of us is sick or away. Shiftworkers we are also happy to work with your roster! Feel free (and invited!) to pass this information on to people beyond the Solace/St Paul's network who you think might be interested.
Another need is just people around! It's great when people are on Station St and they pop in and say hi to whoever is working in the shop (sometimes we are there by ourselves - an offer of a coffee is always appreciated!). We're also trialling different things in how we offer the space to people during the week for a place to be, people to talk with and coffee and tea. People being in the back space of the St Paul's building and just generally around always makes the feel of the shop better. Would you consider spending some time "around" the building? (which will become a somewhat more attractive possibility with heating solutions currently underway!) This could be planning to be around between 12.30 - 2.30 once a week, organising to meet someone who you would be meeting anyway at the space or just having 30 minutes spare around Station St so coming in to sit and read. If you are interested in the more structured of those things (offering to be around at a particular time each week) please talk to me but otherwise please just keep it in mind and act as you are able. Over time, the building will be used for some specific activities during the week but currently opening the building in this kind of way is the only use of the back space during the day during the week. The shop is open 9.30 - 4.30 Monday - Friday and 10 - 2 on Saturday, so those are the times when any of this would be great. Our current times we more specifically open the back space are 12.30 - 2.30 but it is usable at any time by people who will wash up their own mug etc! Just let the people in the shop know you are going through (Do particularly feel free to let
others you know who might be interested in that who are on Station St a bit eg.mum's who might be looking for a space to breastfeed)
Thanks too for the part that various people in the Solace/St Paul's network have played in this. People have provided lunch on cleaning days, helped clean, provided plastic bags as we've requested them, volunteered in the shop, shown interest, prayed, dropped in, given clothes and other things I can't think of right now. Thanks!
Friday, June 29, 2007
Op Shop update: Stories, Requests and Thanks
Here is an email of stories, requests and thanks I sent to the Solace/St Paul's communities. Putting it here for people who might be interested in this part of my life and also there may be some people around the inner north of Melbourne who are interested - if so please leave a comment with your email address.