Let’s face it. Every nonprofit organization, especially those whose mission involves helping the poor, needs to raise money. It would probably astound you if you actually counted the number of requests for funds that arrive in your mailbox – or inbox – every month. The Urban Missionaries are no different. As you are aware, we call or write our supporters several times a year asking their financial support. There is, however, another big need we face each day – the need for volunteers.
We are a small group. On an average day, Kathy, Sue, and Walter run our 6,000 square foot store. They work with customers, straighten the merchandise, receive donations of clothing and small appliances, sweep the floors, and try to stay sane during the summer’s heat and humidity. There are also several great volunteers. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Bob, a small, wiry, retiree, assists Walter with furniture pick-ups and deliveries, as well as making small repairs throughout the building. Each day, a small group of women and men takes turns visiting local supermarkets, picking up donations of bread and pastries, which we sell at extremely low prices to our customers. (Where else can you buy a loaf of crisply crusted cheddar cheese bread for 40 cents?!)
During the school year, you can often find volunteers from Assumption College and the Mass College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences doing internships at the store. During the summer, we are frequently gifted with groups of high school students working with Young Neighbors in Action, a Christian social action organization which sends students on week-long sojourns to the inner city, where they labor with groups such as ours to get a small taste of what it’s like to work with the poor.
Even with all this help, though, there’s always more to do than we have people to do it, and that’s why we turn to you for help. Some of you might think you don’t have enough time to help us out. In reality, we have volunteers who work one Saturday morning a month – twelve times a year. A neighborhood friend comes in two hours a week. Some folks come only on summer Saturday mornings to help set up our weekly yard sale. No amount of time is too small. If your CCD class, Girl or Boy Scout troop, or community group (Knights of Columbus, Rotary, etc.) has a service project as part of its criteria, we have large-scale activities for you, too! While some of you have specialized talents, we demand no exotic skills to work here. What we do is not glamorous. We sort clothes in the back room, hang new merchandise in the front store, organize our constantly overflowing boxes of sheets, pillowcases, and towels, and get dirty. We also make friends. Sue, who works the register four days a week, speaks four languages – English, French, Spanish, and Arabic! We can’t count the number of people for whom English is not their primary language who ask for her by name because they can communicate with her so easily. The smiles on peoples’ faces when they spot a piece of furniture or an appliance they both like and can afford (a formal dining room set for four for $80.00 anyone?) really do light up the room.
There is space for you here. There are jobs and there are people you’ll like. There are friends to be made. Maybe there’s a world you’ve never seen. Peter Maurin, the French Catholic social philosopher, said that one of our jobs is to help make a world where it’s “easier to do good.” That’s what we try to make happen at the Little Store. Finding us is easy. Our new (and, hopefully, final!) location is at 242 Canterbury Street in Worcester (on the corner of Canterbury and Cambridge Streets). We have well-lit off street parking for over 150 cars, and we’re open from 9AM to 4PM Monday through Saturday. (Sundays belong to Someone Else!) If you’d like to get an idea of what we do, call Kathy or Walter Doyle [(508) 831-7455] and set aside some time to come see us. We’ll both be happy you did!!