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“I like that the employees at Mission 27 are nice and I can do a variety of jobs,” says Chakotay P.

Chakotay is a volunteer from Noble, a non-profit organization that serves children and adults with disabilities. Every Wednesday morning, Chakotay and others in Noble’s Career Discovery Experience (CDE) program volunteer at our Mission 27 store on Shelby Street.

The group does everything from sorting donations and pricing merchandise, to sweeping and cleaning shelves, to bagging and greeting customers.

“I look forward to Wednesdays with this group,” says Evon Ducker, store manager. “They always come in here eager and ready to work. They never balk at any task, and they’re happy to help.”

Ducker says the opportunity is good for the Noble CDE group as they’re learning real-world work experiences—and Mission 27 allows them to do that in a safe and welcoming environment. She says their presence has been positive for store staff as well.

“I have some younger staff who have not had the opportunity to interact with individuals served by Noble,” she explains. “It’s been good for the staff to see how capable, willing and helpful they are.”

Forming Bonds

And not surprisingly, as a weekly fixture in the store, the Noble volunteers have started to form bonds with staff and customers alike.

One Mission 27 staff member is a former special needs teacher who loves being with the group on Wednesdays.

“She fell right back into her element as a teacher,” Evon shares. “She loves them and they love her.”

Evon says it’s not uncommon for the Noble group members to make and leave cards for her or another staff member—something all of them treasure.

Additionally, because Wednesdays are also Senior Day at Mission 27, there are a lot of repeat customers those days. Evon regularly greets customers and has come to know many of the seniors by name. And now, so does the Noble group. Evon says it’s been heartwarming to see them recognize and greet a senior by name.

Life Skills + Volunteer Experience

In addition to their Wednesdays at Mission 27, the group also volunteers weekly at the SVdP food pantry on 30th Street, packing up food for those who come through the drive-thru pantry.

“Mission 27 and the SVdP food pantry are their two favorite places to volunteer,” says Susan Smith, program facilitator of Noble’s CDE program.

Diana M., another member of the CDE program, agrees: “St. Vincent de Paul is pretty cool. I like it.”

The volunteer experiences fit well with the CDE program, Susan says, because they give the CDE members the opportunity to do a job and learn life skills, while also giving back to others. Specifically, the volunteer experiences allow the CDE participants to learn skills like customer service, patience, teamwork and working with a supervisor.

Best of all, Susan says, the group is able to do this in a wonderful environment where the employees are respectful, kind and make them feel welcome.