household items without cash. They need to obtain a voucher from the
Saint Vincent de Paul Social Concern Office across the street stating
what they need. The woman who runs this store is due to retire in March, so they wanted me to consider taking her place. Having me at the helm would solve two problems: Firstly; running the store, and Secondly; supervising the mentally-challenged clientelle that help in the downtown St. Vincent facilities. We currently have three such people downtown, but would like to expand our work-experience programs and would need staff support to do so. The 16 years I spent in the electrical shop taught me how the supply system for the stores works, and I got to know many of the staff involved. Add to this my experience with the mentally-challenged, I was a natural choice for this position.
My initial reaction was that this was a bad idea for me to pursue. The 70 challenged people in Royal Oak are like a family to me, and it would be difficult to leave them. Especially after 20 years! Also, I live in Royal Oak, so I have been able to walk to work. If I took this position, I’d have a long commute (bus or bike ride). But I knew that I always initially react negatively to new ideas, so I told my superiors that I would need to think and pray about it overnight before I gave them an answer. My wife thought it would be a good change for me. I had to admit that I had some misgivings about how well I would adapt to some of the recent restructuring at Royal Oak, so I decided to give the new job a chance.
I’ve now finished my first week at the store. I’ve become fast friends with the mentally-challenged man who helps out there. I spend a lot of time putting fresh stock on the clothing racks, processing vouchers for our clientelle and bagging their selections, and cleaning the store. I was very tired after the first few days, but it is getting easier. So far, so good!
Above, you can see our shoe racks. The last two pictures show our stock in the back room of pans, small appliances, and boxes of dishes and cutlery. We also have a rack of coats and a bin of blankets. Everything comes as donations to our thrift store system.