Relationships come in many forms.
Participants of Support Services for Adults at the Lonning Center began volunteering for Renewed Treasures, a resale shop located off Droste Road in St. Charles that is run by volunteers. Cindy and her husband, Councilman Tom Besselman, owners of Renewed Treasure, opened the shop July 23, 2013, to help 18 missionaries. After the bills are paid, the money brought in is divided amongst the missionaries.
Cindy believes the store is more of a missionary or a community within a community. “We were so excited when Community Living came in and wanted to be a part of our community,” Cindy said.
Kim Kaesser, Support Coordinator at the Lonning Center, volunteers at Renewed Treasures with her mother, Diane, a friend of Cindy’s. One day during a staff meeting, Kim was asked if she knew of any non-profits that the center could volunteer for. “I immediately thought about Renewed Treasures,” Kim said. “There were endless opportunities with them, such as sorting hangers, clothes, books and many other meaningful tasks. I contacted Cindy and exchanged information with her.”
A relationship was born in February 2015. “We are always looking for volunteers to help out in the store,” Cindy said. “I was overwhelmed with gratitude that Community Living would take part and partner with us to help the community.”
Every Tuesday and Thursday, participants volunteer at the store. There are a variety of tasks to be done. They will sweep the floor, look through books to check for torn pages or pages with writing on them, check games to make sure all the pieces are there, pair shoes and test out pens to make sure the ink is working. They are willing to help with any task given to them. “Your center makes our store full of integrity and quality,” Cindy said. “They are a vital part of our team. They are amazing.”
They will also take items back to the centers, such as puzzles, hangers and laundry. “Because they check all the pieces of the puzzles we give them or games, we can say to our customers this has been checked, and ‘yes, all the pieces are there,’” Lori Gilmore, volunteer store manager, said. When asked if there was any laundry to do, Lori didn’t want to tell Kathy Olliff, Lonning Center Support Staff, how much, so she said sometimes. “And, then Kathy told me we can do it,” Lori said. “Then I was like I have to be honest, I take home two to three loads a week. Kathy just said ‘we can do that.’”
Lori is at the store every Tuesday and Thursday when participants come in and she has gotten to know them on a personal level. “It melted my heart when Lois (Loy, Lonning Center Support Staff) came in and told me when I was on vacation Seth (participant at Lonning Center) missed me,” Lori said. “Every time the center drops things off he asks for me.”
When you think of a relationship, you may think of nicknames, and Cindy and Lori have a nickname for the participants at the Lonning Center. “We call them Clive,” Lori said. “The ‘c’ stands for community and the ‘live’ (pronounced as in “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night”) is short for living.”
But for Cindy, Clive fits beautifully in the vocabulary at Renewed Treasures. “Here we have our own lingo,” Cindy said. “Instead of donations, we call it ‘manna’ (manna is a religious term referring to bread of life) and instead of mannequins we call them ‘smarties.’”
Both Cindy and Kim think the relationship is working perfectly. “It’s going great,” Kim said. “Not only are they helping us out by providing our center with meaningful tasks to work on every day, but we are also helping them out. They are a non-profit company and their proceeds go to missionaries. It is such a joy to be able to partner with a wonderful company with such an awesome mission.”
“We would love for the relationship to continue,” Melanie Jorgenson, volunteer at Renewed Treasures, said. “They are helping so much. I’ll use hangers as an example, when they presort the hangers, the store volunteers get more time to sort through manna (donations) or hang merchandise and get it up on the rack. It makes the process go much faster. It may seem small, but it is such a huge help.”
As much as the center has been helping Renewed Treasures, they have been helping the center to fulfill their mission. “I didn’t realize the impact we had on Clive,” Cindy said. “We are so thrilled and grateful for the impact they have on our store.”
“We had no idea the relationship was reciprocal,” Lori said.
Note: The relationship was featured on KMOV’s Harris Heroes segment. Here’s the link: http://www.kmov.com/story/29518201/retired-woman-helping-people-with-developmental-disabilities-find-jobs