What a fine month it has been working with these ladies!!
Working at thrift shops is one of the ‘more favorite’ jobs that SOWER ladies are tasked with. I’m not speaking for all ladies, but most of us enjoy sorting through ‘stuff’ to find those treasures.
Sweet Ann would sit by those massive piles and fill up bins for us to sort through. She’d always pull out the obvious rejects before she’d put them in those big blue bins.
Once she had a bin full, she’d deliver it to us for a more careful review. No pulls, no stains (however small), no missing buttons, no pilling, etc.
Once we were sure everything was in tip-top shape, Lorraine and I would size them, hang them, and put them on a rack (in a nice organized fashion).
As the rack would fill up, Deb would take them out to the floor to distribute them to their appropriate location.
Some items may or may not have made it to a small pile of “OH, how cute is that? And it’s my size??” clothes, but I promise everything was either paid for or returned to hangers by the end of the day!
Between all of the clothing we’ve sorted through (that barely made a dent in the clothing bins) and the mammoth amount of donations in general that need to be sorted through, I have a whole new perspective on thrift shop ‘management’! It’s a HUGE job!
Meanwhile, in the back, the guys continue to build those shelves
and as fast as they are completed, they are being filled up!
We’re in our last week volunteering here – and I think we’ve been a pretty good team!
I truly do love our SOWER life!
I am often quite apologetic about the lack of pictures I have of our SOWER men working, but this month since we’re all working at the same location (though in different areas) I’ve been able to snap some photos of the guys. Plus – my co-workers are also good about sharing ones that they’ve taken!!
So the men are in the back of the warehouse constructing these giant shelves to help organize the incredible amount of donations this thrift shop received.
As you can see, they’ve gone to new heights and depths to complete these shelves!
After two weeks (and a new shipment of supplies) everyone is getting into the rhythm of team work!
Measure, Cut, Construct. Measure, Cut, Construct.
And when they have a unit complete, they all work together to get ‘er upright!
It truly is amazing what a bunch of four old dudes can get done! (OK, so one of the guys is just 60, but three of them are 70+). My mama used to say, “Many hands make light the work”, and that is so true with SOWERS (even if the work isn’t light at all!).
Thank you, LORD, for these willing hands!
I think we finished our first week strong. We ladies managed to keep ahead of the customers (in inspecting, sorting and hanging clothes) even through the half-price day on Wednesday! Phew, that was crazy!
I’m happy to report my ‘take home’ pile has remained manageable, and I’ve been doing a pretty good job of following Gary’s rule of “One in, Two out.” Pretty good.
The guys are ramping up their shelf building system, and actually ran out of materials by the end of the week.
These are massive shelves – but then again, there seem to be massive amounts of donations!
It was a good week, but we were ready for the weekend! (I know, I know. We’re quite spoiled with these four day work weeks. But at this point, we’re pretty used to it!)
Saturday One (aka Friday) began bright and sunny, and the perfect day for a sweet golf cart tour of the campground where we are parked – Lake Aurora Christian Camp.
This camp has a rich history (founded in 1947 as a youth camp) of presenting the gospel to youth (and eventually adults) in this central Florida area. Oh, and it’s quite beautiful also!
Lake Aurora is considered alligator free because it is spring fed with no outlet or inlet. And that’s a really good thing!
We can only imagine how amazing this beach area must be when all of their ‘water toys’ are out for the kids!
Our tour also took us by some amazing live oak trees.
Probably the most spectacular one was actually too large for my phone camera to capture (from my spot in the golf cart!), so here’s a shot from my SOWER friend, Deb –
Since the Care Center really has no place for us to park, we are blessed to be able to park here at Lake Aurora! There are many other volunteers here and they’ve been welcoming and helpful as we learn the ropes. God has certainly provide a ‘place beside the still waters’ for us this month!
Saturday Two (aka Saturday)
We had hoped to catch a Farmer’s Market in Lake Wales, but alas had the wrong Saturday. (Thankfully there are lots of great produce stands around, though, so we’re staying stocked up on cucumbers and broccoli!) But we did make it to the Sunshine Flea Market just up the road a piece.
We weren’t looking for anything in particular, but found a couple of treasures nonetheless! And some interesting characters too!
Our ‘out and about’ was complete with a quilt shop stop (for me) and a truck wash (for him!). Of course. We were home in time for a nice afternoon snooze and even got a couple of chores in before one of us headed to bed!
As I’m writing this all out, some of it seems pretty ordinary. And it is. I believe God graciously gives us these “ordinary days” to refresh us and I’m so thankful that He does!
…and now it’s time for the other one of us to head to bed! =)
Well, friends, we are through Day Two of our January SOWER project and I thought I’d give you some insights into how this month is shaping up. First, the ministry where we are serving. To say that Lake Wales Care Center is a ‘multi-faceted’ mission is quite the understatement. What began as a clothing closet and food pantry in 1985 has grown to include family services and resources (short-term financial assistance and tangible resources such as clothing, food and furniture), transitional housing (support for homeless families while they work through a structured program to “get back on their feet”), a free health clinic (a valuable resource to community members without health insurance), a pregnancy care program (providing support and appropriate services for women facing unplanned pregnancies), Holiday assistance (where parents can come and shop for their kids), tutoring (all ages and ESL), financial counseling, life-skills counseling, home repairs assistance done through a “Stay at Home Mission” program with local youths, and because they don’t seem busy enough, they have also started a community garden.
Yesterday (our first day of work) we met the director at one of their locations, and he gave us a walking tour of their different buildings in town (offices, warehouses, bookstore, “Christmas Store”, etc.) and then took us on a drive to show us their different transitional housing options. I have to tell you, it took my breath away! They also have two large thrift stores which along with generating needed income for this ministry, also provides quality items at reduced cost to the community. Phew.
With our heads still spinning over the breadth of this ministry’s positive influence in this community, we loaded into our own trucks and headed north to where we would be actually spending our working days – their new(-ish to them) 36,000 square foot building in Dundee which houses their second thrift shop and more donations than you can imagine!
The guys are building massive shelves in the back
(Can you see how they’re already filling the shelves even before the guys are done with the section! Crazy!)
And after a two months of painting and one month of siding installation helpering, I’m happy to report that we ladies are working in the thrift shop. (Yes, I’m pretty happy about this!).
We’re sorting through donations, putting them on hangers, delivering them to the correct sections in the store and then when we need a change of pace, we head to the ‘floor’ and “police” the racks to keep them neat and in order. It’s a big job, friends, but someone has to do it!! Of course the biggest challenge is not filling up my own basket with items to buy. This could be a very challenging month, indeed!
We’re working with one couple we’re very fond of and have worked with before and one couple who are on their very first project. So fun! This project is a little different since we’re not parked right at job site (and in fact have about a 30 min drive to our Thrift Store), but so far even with the travel time, it’s been a wonderful experience. God is at work here in Lake Wales, for sure!
Oh, and Gary found a car wash that’s just off the road from our drive to and from work, so he signed up for the monthly pass. So we’ll be havin’ a shiny truck all month too!
We’re getting nicely settled in our January spot (check out the So Where Are We Now page for more details!) but getting here presented some interesting challenges.
Tuesday night as we were packing up and preparing for an early departure Wednesday morning, Gary did his standard tire pressure check. We’re thankful he did! One of our rear tires was dangerously low and was a cause for concern. He got the pressure up (yes, we carry an air compressor with us), checked it in the morning to make sure it was still safe to drive, and headed to a local tire shop, hoping for a quick repair and then we’d be officially on our way.
The first shop couldn’t find the leak. The second shop couldn’t fit us in until (maybe) later in the day. The third shop was the charm – there was only about an hour wait. (Kinda hard to believe that the little town of Bonifay (FL) has THREE Tire shops!) We found an empty parking lot to wait, and sure enough we got the call just a little over an hour later. Gary maneuvered our beast into their work area, and the mechanic started working on the tire. He found the leak in the valve extension (that’s where Gary thought it might be), and removed it to fix the problem, filled up the tire, and kindly said – “NO Charge” when we went to pay the bill. Unexpected blessing to be sure! The morning was just about gone, but we were on our way at last.
Except. The engine was running rough. It would go along fine, but then it would give a little cough or jerk like it wasn’t getting enough fuel. This has happened before and each time the problem has been the fuel filter. So now we carry a spare or two just in case! We limped into the next rest stop and my dear husband worked his magic once again.
We were very thankful that that did indeed ‘do the trick’ and we were officially on our way a little after noon, aiming for a rest stop/overnight near Ocala.
Except. During one of our ‘waiting times’ we had tried to start the generator. Nuttin’. Click-click-click -whrrrrrrrrr. We don’t need the generator to move down the road (or when we’re plugged into power), but because we now have a residential refrigerator (which we love) we do need to run the generator periodically when we’re not going to be plugged into power for over 24 hours. We’ve found that running the generator for a couple of hours in the evening and then again in the morning (we have to make coffee, after all!) keeps the fridge nice and cold. But an overnight with no generator could be trouble.
And Then. We realized that the water pump was not working. Now we carry some bottled water with us, but we weren’t really excited about flushing the toilet, washing our hands, etc. using 16oz bottles of water.
And So. We broke our ‘golden rule’ of two day travel (rest stop or Walmart for sleeping) and pulled into a campground right off the highway for a quick overnight. Power, water, all the good things – and even a bit of TV! I think it was a well spent $29.00.
We had a leisurely morning, and finished the last 120 miles of the trip with no problems, just a bit more Florida traffic than I like! Today we ordered a new valve stem extension to complete the tire repair and a new water pump control (we don’t need the pump as long as we’re hooked up to ‘city water’) along with some other miscellaneous RV parts that have been hanging out in our shopping cart on Amazon! Oh, and the generator started right up once we got to our new spot. That little glitch remains a mystery.
So once again, God has gotten us safely to our next location. We cover our travels in prayer (and I know others pray along with us), and we never take for granted a safe arrival. We’re thankful to be here, safe and secure, and ready to see what the LORD has in store for us this month!
Thanks for coming along for the (somewhat bumpy) ride!