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Ministry opens store to aid community

FaithWorks of the Inner City has opened the Shidler-Wheeler Community Thrift Store to help youths and families in the southeast Oklahoma City neighborhood.
by Carla Hinton Published: January 18, 2014

He said the thrift store is a natural byproduct of the growing friendships and interconnected relationships that have developed between FaithWorks staff and volunteers and the people they serve. He said the store has been sort of a community hub as neighborhood residents wander in to shop or chitchat.

“The word ‘community' is in our store name for a reason,” he said.

Goin agreed.

“This has turned into more than just a thrift store,” she said.

As an example, she walked a recent visitor to an area in the back of the store where a group of women sort donated clothing and other items.

One of the women, Marlene Briones, a volunteer cook at the FaithWorks community center, said the store has given many of them employment and something of purpose.

Briones said the thrift store has helped many neighborhood families with big needs but little money.

“It's a really good thing for our community. For a lot of families that have a low economic level, this helps out a lot,” she said, as she looked through a rack of women's shirts.

“I'm here everyday to buy something,” she said, grinning.

Bridging the gaps

Goin said Briones also is part of Bridging the Gap, a FaithWorks program that provides housing for some of the community residents.

Goin said many of the women who work or volunteer at the store didn't have jobs due to lack of transportation or other reasons.

She said Briones' mother was basically housebound until she was persuaded to help at the store.

“Now she comes in and helps sort clothes. If she finds holes, she takes them home and repairs them,” Goin said. “She's like a grandmother to our community, and her daughter said her whole demeanor has changed. I think it really helps for people to have a purpose.”

Kirk said the store also allows the ministry to employ neighborhood teenagers through a work training program created just for them.

Gonzalo Vasquez, 19, a University of Central Oklahoma sophomore who is a FaithWorks intern, said the work experience is invaluable for the young people.

“For a lot of the teenagers, it's their first job opportunity,” he said.