National Volunteer Week

Meet Thrift Store Volunteers Rick and Deb Boyd

We both began volunteering at the Thrift Store in 2010, shortly after we moved to Kelowna. We have volunteered continuously for 14 years. Deb began in the Thrift Store by receiving donations, sorting them, pricing them, presenting them for display, and in all aspects dealing directly with customers. Rick, lacking those retailing qualifications, focused on recycling (hauling away) unsuitable donations, fixing store equipment, and constructing all manner of store requirements from signage to racks, shelves, closets, and counters. Rick, being male, was pleased to be accepted as a volunteer at the store…and at the Shelter itself (envelope stuffing, playing Santa Claus). That required achieving police security clearance—which was tougher than expected when police data files turned up an obscure, notorious Canadian sex offender with the exact same name!

Early 2014...2 months after the store moved to its present location. [L to R: volunteer, Deb, store manager, store manager at the previous(Lawrence Ave) location, Rick]

The “moment that matters” most for Deb comes from two main things: when she can provide help to a customer that is truly in need—whether finding an item in the store, or just offering some much-needed warmth and empathy; and from the joy of working alongside a group of upbeat, hard-working volunteers and staff. For Rick, it’s from helping find a solution to perplexing problems—from store equipment to general business issues.

Volunteering is most meaningful to both of us when we sense that we are making a positive difference. We get that feedback from seeing the continuing growth in the store’s financial success that contributes in a major way to the success of the Shelter. We get it from the continuing high ratings that the store receives. And we get it from the fun and positive attitudes of our customers, staff, and fellow volunteers.

For someone just getting into volunteering, we would offer the following advice. One is to choose an organization that is meaningful to you, with work that you enjoy. Two is to be sensitive to the true needs of your position, fitting your skills into the work of the team rather than focusing primarily on tasks that you like to do.

It’s amazing what donations show up at the store! Our favourite finds so far have been: a string of Christmas tree “bubble lights” like one that Rick remembers from his childhood in the 1950s; and a new, top-quality electric kettle. But each week’s donations bring surprises--high-quality fashion clothing, artwork, books, electric kitchen gadgets, fine china, and so much more!

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