YNIA – Young Neighbors In Action
St. Katharine Drexel Parish ~ Kaukauna, WI
When I first learned that we were going to a thrift store called the Little Store, I expected just that “A Little Store”. What I encountered when I got there was so, so much more than just that. We were greeted by a man named Harry
who was ecstatic to see us and almost immediately remembered all eight of our names. We walked through the store to the back that was thankfully air conditioned. There, we learned all of the amazing and beautiful things that go on behind the scenes. Harry introduced us to Walter, who, with his wife, started Urban Missionaries in 1979. Harry took us through the whole building and explained their Christmas program and how many families they help every year, and it was astounding. On my first day there I began chipping paint off an outside wall so we could repaint it. After lunch I got the opportunity to work the front counter of the store with Mariellis. Every person that walked in, she knew and they were excited to see her. It was then that I really began seeing all of the amazing things that the people that are a part of Urban Missionaries do. People can come in and get a bag of food for free if they really need it to get by. (When I would tell them that I would grab their bag, people would laugh or make comments because I am from Wisconsin and apparently have a very heavy accent.) Something that really astonished me while I was there was how thankful everyone was that walked in to the Little Store. They saw that we were working and trying to make improvements in how the store looked and they thanked us, and a few even talked with me for a while and told me that they would keep me in their prayers. Priscilla, who works in the office of the building, was always going around and taking pictures of us, making sure we were doing well, and made it her mission to remember our names so she could call us all out to dance with her during our culture night. During lunch, Walter and his wife Kathy explained all that they do for immigrants and how much they help them. The best thing about everything that Urban Missionaries does is that they do everything with the people in mind. They do everything they can to ensure that the people who walk in seeking their help maintain their dignity, get the help they need, and can get back on their feet at the same time. When I learned where I was going to be working after an eighteen hour car ride,
I never expected the people Urban Missionaries to affect me and touch my heart as much as they did, and I will be forever thankful that I got the opportunity to meet them.
By Mikenna Buchinger