By Peter Zubler, Executive Director
Several years back, SVdP Indy faced what many non-profit organizations face: a need to build upon and grow the funding required to sustain the long-term mission. We had the most faithful volunteers and donors (and still do!), but we were at a point in our growth where we needed to create a more sustainable infrastructure that would enable us to expand our ability and reach within the community. While we were still making an impact for our neighbors in need, we were limited in our response, and we needed a way to do more and continue to improve.
And that was the beginning of Mission 27 Resale. The stores were the vision of former leaders Pat Jerrell, Jim Donges, and John Ryan. They’d spent time researching the thrift store model from other SVdP Councils around the country and all believed strongly this was the answer to our problem. And, today, we’re even more grateful for their vision and willingness to take a risk.
The first Mission 27 Store opened in 2016 at 132 Leota Street. It has been a great success from the start, allowing us to create an additional sustainable revenue source. Most importantly, it enabled us to fund two primary goals:
- Improving the nutritious food distributed at our food pantry
- Increasing the number of Changing Lives Forever (CLF) classes as well as the support offered to participants/graduates (including stipends for transportation and childcare)
The first store has allowed us to increase the distribution of nutritious food, as well as increase the number of CLF classes offered. So, now, with the launch of the second store (on Shelby Street in 2019), we are in a position to embark on a third goal: increase support for our homeless ministries.
How Your Donations Help Those in Need
People drop off items to our Distribution Center and at our clothing bins throughout the community every week. It’s important to note, however, that when material donations come in, they are not automatically routed to one of the Mission 27 stores. We first look to see if there is any designation or direction attached to the donation (i.e. referral desk, Homeless Ministry). If there is a designation, we take the donation directly to those ministries. If there is no designation, the donation is sorted and cleaned and then distributed to either individuals/families in need, our homeless ministries, or to our two Mission 27 stores.
We collect donations of furniture, household goods, bicycles, clothing and appliances five days per week and typically have 50 residential donation pick-ups in that same time. This has provided a regular and consistent inventory of good quality furniture and household items available for those who call us for help, as well as those who shop our stores.
Special Partnership with Store Neighbor
In addition to generating revenue to support our ministry programs, the stores have allowed us to love our nearby neighbors in new ways. A great example is our partnership with the SENSE Charter School, where 95% of the school families are below the federal poverty income standards. The families were struggling to provide even the basic needs and the pandemic has exacerbated that struggle. State and federal safety-net programs have not kept up with the demands. Mission 27 is helping to fill those needs.
“Mission 27 has been a phenomenal neighbor and friend,” says Kate Voss, Community Outreach Coordinator of SENSE Charter School. “Mission 27 has given us school supplies, diapers, clothing, cleaning and hygiene products and more. Some of the items like cleaning or hygiene products cannot be purchased with food stamps, so this partnership is all the more helpful for our families.”
Kate says whenever she goes into one of our Mission 27 stores, our staff bring her items and ask, “Could you use this? Will this help your students? Will it make an impact?” She’s also referred several school families to our Distribution Center and food pantry for supplies. The store’s presence—and our resulting partnership with SENSE Charter School—has allowed us to extend our reach and meet even more needs in the Southeast Indy neighborhood.
Doing More for More People
The Mission 27 stores give us a way to translate donations into dollars that can fund our ministries and support our mission of helping people in need. The investment in these stores was really an investment in SVdP. Our donor funding has tripled over the last eight years—growth that kick-started with the launch of the stores. In addition to engaging more donors, we’ve secured more grants. Add on the consistent revenue from the stores and we’re in a better position to not only respond to the needs but actually begin to predict them, which enhances the efficacy of our response. We’ve not veered from the mission of helping people in need—we’re now just more equipped to do so.