Archive for Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A helping hand

Pastor’s idea for thrift shop meets with lukewarm response

January 19, 2005

The Rev. Paul Waters wants the community to step right up.

The Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Bank, operating for the past 18 years in a former church at Fourth and Shawnee, has outgrown its building, Waters said.

And Waters, who is minister of Tonganoxie United Methodist Church -- just east of the thrift shop -- has been looking into how to help the local charity. A new building -- in another part of town -- is what's needed, Waters said.

"This is pure aspiration on my part," Waters said. "But I think the community would be willing to come together in terms of getting a pre-fab building put together and put up someplace so that they're not spending a lot of money on a decrepit building."

Waters said an adequate building for the thrift shop should be about 14,000 square feet. He estimated the building would cost about $275,000, excluding land.

"We'd like, because of the age of the volunteers, to have it on a single level," Waters said.

One thrift shop volunteer was hurt last February when she took a tumble down the stairs.

"I was going to go out the door and I reached for the door -- it pulls in -- I stepped back so I could pull the door in and when I did there was nothing there," said the woman, who asked not to be identified. "I stepped out into mid-air and I went over backward."

The fall, down six concrete stairs, landed her on a concrete floor and ultimately sent her to the hospital with a broken hip, she said.

After surgery, which included a metal rod inserted in her femur, and weeks of physical therapy, she's on her feet again.

Settled in

Although it's not likely the thrift shop's board of directors would turn down a new building, Waters' idea took Dorothy Korb by surprise.

Korb is a founding member of the 18-year-old thrift shop's board, and a current co-director.

"We're happy where we are," Korb said Friday.

"I hadn't heard anything more about it except what was brought up last summer -- as far as I know, nothing has been said."

Last summer, as reported in The Mirror, the Methodist Church made an offer to buy the Friends Church, which is just west across the street from the thrift shop. Tentative plans at that time, according to Waters, were to move the thrift shop into the Friends Church building, demolish the parsonage next door and put up a metal building, also for the thrift shop.

The Methodist Church then could expand its parking lot by tearing down the building that now houses the thrift shop.

David Robinson is general superintendent of the Wichita-based Evan-gelical Friends Church and Mid America Yearly Meeting, which owns the Tonganoxie Friends Church and a parsonage next door. Last summer, Robinson told The Mirror that the Yearly Meeting had turned down the offer from the Methodist Church and the Yearly meeting plans to keep the property and work toward revitalizing the congregation. That plan still is on the table, Robinson said in an interview last week.

In good shape

Korb acknowledged that the thrift shop, which is run entirely with volunteer labor, could use more room. But, she said, the existing building is not decrepit.

"It's an old building," Korb said. "But we really haven't had to do that much for upkeep."

It's economical to heat and cool, she said, and after making some repairs, the building is water-tight.

Moreover, the location on Fourth Street is ideal, she said. And, on Saturday, after talking to other board members, Korb said none of them was pushing for a move.

Last summer, Waters' idea of moving the thrift shop across the street didn't appeal to the thrift shop board either, Korb said.

"We weren't happy with the whole idea at all because we wouldn't be bettering ourselves at all," Korb said. "That just wasn't feasible."

Although Waters said he would still be interested in utilizing the thrift shop's real estate for a parking lot, he said that wasn't his reason for starting a drive for a new building.

If a new building were built, Waters said, the church likely would make an offer to buy the building where the thrift shop is now housed.

"We'd be dealing with a building that would need to be demolished," Waters said.

"I'm more concerned about the thrift shop having space than us having a parking lot," Waters said.

Waters noted the assistance the thrift shop provides for local residents, as well as for those in neighboring counties.

"They've adopted more families this Christmas than what they ever had," Waters said. "... They're getting more demand in terms of requests for food, assistance on utilities and rent -- there's just a whole lot more that they're doing now. There's a greater need."

He praised the thrift shop's volunteers, which includes the board of directors.

"They just have one of the best organizational cores of volunteers I've ever been around," Waters said.

And, Waters has said it's his personal hope that his congregation eventually will be able to build a new church several miles east of Tonganoxie.

"But that's going to be a long, long time away," Waters said. "What we're interested in is basically growing the church (membership) extensively enough to where the need becomes great enough that we have to do something different."

In the meantime, Waters said, the church is not overly crowded on Sunday mornings.

The Methodist Church has about 250 members. The average total attendance at Sunday worship services is 108, Waters said.

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