The answer is a complex one, as the very existence of the POST Thrift Store is to generate revenue to ensure that Canadian Mental Health Association is able provide supports, education and programming to our community. The store has evolved over the past 39 years and has always provided community supports in different ways as these changes have occurred. The store is a supportive work environment, partners with work placement programs, provides materials to different programs in the city and works with many kinds of volunteers.
A supportive work environment allows those who struggle with significant mental health issues to maintain employment as well as their wellness. For example, some employees need several weeks off at a time due to hospitalization or to have their medications adjusted and The Post is able to accommodate these needs. The staff and management work together to create goals and share important skills in hopes that the individual will eventually feel confident and supported enough to move on to other work environments.
The store also assists those youth in work placement programs to provide them with practical experience. A skill based approach assists with those young people that may have not been taught crucial skills elsewhere. As we are a supported work environment with the goals of teaching skills to assist staff/volunteers, this makes the partnership with Alberta Corp – Bridging Youth to Success program a great fit.
The community provides wonderful donations to the store and in turn the store gives back to the community. There are a few factors that come into play when we re-donate products. From a business stand point, some items are not worth the investment of the time required for the return that comes back to the store. For example, crafts are very time consuming and takes volunteers/staff hours to sort through the boxes – it is tedious work and they are not high priced items. So, when the store gets these items they are dispersed into the community. For example, day care centres and after school programs are given the craft items to use which also helps fill a need in our community.
The Store requires volunteers to function. There are many aspects to the store including processing donated items, cleaning, pricing and stocking the shelves. These are all huge jobs and we are lucky to have volunteers that enjoy giving back to the community. These volunteers are gems as they come with knowledge and experience about some of the items that come through the store. We have volunteers that are on fixed incomes (CCP/AISH) that want a meaningful daily activity that helps them feel connected to their community. We also get volunteers that have justice system involvement like fine options or community service hours that need to be completed. The store is always looking for more volunteers and is currently looking for 5 teams of 3 people that could assist us with the clothing department.
POST it Notes are another way that the store gives back to the community. These are gift cards that are given to different community agencies (Medicine Hat and District Food Bank, Community Housing Society, Medicine Hat Recovery Centre, and others) to aid the participants in their programs. Each year at the annual Snowflake Soiree, there are ear marked funds that are raised specifically for POST it Notes to ensure that they are always available.
So the next time you are at the store remember that we are not just a thrift store but a place that impacts the community on a variety of different levels.