Groups, a blessing of the special kind

Our biggest source of volunteers far and away is from parishes and schools. It is also the biggest source of energy, noise, and fun times, not to mention the tremendous amount of work that gets done. Did I mention fun?

Whenever a group comes in, we always give them a tour of the facilities and explain the work that we do. This gives rise to many questions, some easy, others difficult, but the one everyone asks is, “How long have you been doing this?” When I answer, “Forty years.” I can see the shock on the faces. As one young lady put it, “That’s more than twice my age!” Yuppers, it has been a long time!

This year has been no different. We have had four groups come to help out. Each one of them put all their enthusiasm and energy into the work that needed to be done. In fact, as part of our wrap-up talk, I always tell them, “If you didn’t come and do this work today it wouldn’t get done. That’s how important your coming here today is for us.”

The Algonquin Global Group

This group comes from Algonquin High School in Northborough, MA. They are students that make a difference by helping others. They heard about us from Macey, who I met one night when I was giving a talk to the Young Neighbors in Action group at St. Rose of Lima Parish. After I finished giving the talk, she approached me and asked a few questions about our work. Then she told me she would like to come and help out some time, so I gave her my business card. Within two weeks, she called us and asked if she could come in and volunteer. “Of course,” we said and that was the start of a very helpful relationship, as well as a clothing drive she conducted. This group came for five Saturdays, there were seven students and they rotated weeks with each other.

Saint Mary’s Parish, Shrewsbury MA

We had two groups from Saint Mary’s. The first group had five students and a parent. They started our big clean project. When we moved into this building, we used the second floor for Christmas storage. It has been six years now and we wanted to clean it and wash the windows. So we decided 2019 would be the year. When the Saint Mary’s group came in, they were the first to tackle this big job.

The second group had thirteen students and three leaders. Because it was such a large group we had them sorting our shed full of donations. The shed is 4,000 square feet of space filled with donations to be sorted. Did I mention this was in March and we have no heat in the shed?  They did the work with all the cheer and energy they could muster. They made a very big dent in the piles stacked up in the shed.

Saint Peter Marian High School, Worcester MA

This was a group of five students and one leader. Since they came in on the next weekend after the Saint Mary’s group we put them to work sorting donations in the shed. They caught on to the system we have for sorting very quickly and within a three-hour period they also made a big dent in the piles of donations in the shed and yes, they also worked without heat.

The Coppinger Family

Finally, we also received a great deal of help from the Coppinger family. Phil Coppinger, and his two sons, came in to help, and they came ready! As you may have gathered from reading about the other groups, the shed has been in quite a state for some time now, and the Coppingers were the first to help take some of the pressure off. They very helpfully placed a lot of furniture from the shed into the LittleStore, and made it immediately available to our local community. There was such a great demand for the furniture they helped bring into the store, that people were taking some of the pieces home the very next day.

In addition to helping in the shed, the Coppingers also helped organize our furniture area, and test some electronics as well. The LittleStore had never looked so orderly!

Through Service, Providing Global Relief, in Worcester

(Hello everyone! We recently had a great group of super-motivated students from Assumption College come to The LittleStore to give a hand. They were great to work with, and helped out a ton. Assumption College posted an article on the visit, and why they decided to help out with the Urban Missionaries. Click the link below to read more directly on Assumptions site.)

Traditional final examinations are generally held in a classroom with a proctor. For students enrolled in GLS 112: Perspectives on Global Humanitarian Relief, their final exam found them at Urban Missionaries, a refugee apostolate in Worcester, supporting its efforts to provide for refugees, asylees and immigrants as well as those in the greatest of need.

Ed’s Visit

Once again we had our visit from Ed Lee, the owner of the buildings we occupy. Ed travels from China, where his factory is, to the U.S where he makes a number of stops at his customer’s places of business, and when gets to New England he stops by here to say hello and catch up on our progress.

Ed has been a benefactor for our ministry ever since he donated monies to help us purchase our truck ten years ago. Since that time, he purchased the buildings we currently use, helped us purchase our point of sale system and funded our efforts to hire a manager. Aside from these contributions, Ed has had a tremendous impact upon Kathy and I in the areas of business, church, and family.

This year, we gave Ed and his fellow travelers an Urban Missionaries of Our Lady of Hope sweatshirt. You would have thought we gave them a million dollars judging by the smiles and the number of times each of them said thank you. It both surprised and tickled Kathy and I to see the reactions

I also gave Ed one of our customer loyalty cards for the LittleStore. Ed was taken by surprise and showed us just how much he appreciated the loyalty card when he immediately took out his wallet, opened it up and took a card the was right on top and replace it with our card, patted it and said, “I am going to show this to everyone.”  We all laughed.

We then went to have breakfast at a local diner where we could talk. Ed always wants to know how things are going, how are the people who work for us doing, and what is going on in the lives of the people we serve. Kathy and I then proceed to tell him about everything we are doing plus our dreams for the future of the ministry. We consider Ed a God-send. One sent by God to help us on this road we travel.