Tucked away in a tiny office at The Community Partnership Resale Shop on North Bishop Avenue in Rolla, store manager Maria Grant is multi-tasking.
Tucked away in a tiny office at The Community Partnership Resale Shop on North Bishop Avenue in Rolla, store manager Maria Grant is multi-tasking. Juggling the phone, a volunteer schedule and a question from a staff member about a donation pick-up, Grant moves from task to task with an energy that stays pretty constant throughout the day.
Born and raised in New York, Grant lived in New Jersey for over 20 years. Ten years ago, she packed up and moved with her husband and two children to “The Middle of Everywhere.” Grant’s husband Steve had taken a position on the electrical engineering faculty at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and her life was about to undergo a lot of changes.
“I received my bachelor’s degree in marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey,” explained Grant. “I’d been in retail management, including being a buyer and senior store executive, and I also did national market research for both consumer and ethical drug markets. I wasn’t sure what path my career was going to take when I moved to Rolla.”
It turned out that her path led her to The Community Partnership, a local non-profit organization serving the community with programs like Capable Kids and Families, for families with children with disabilities; the Young Parents Program, for pregnant and parenting youth; Early Care and Education, serving area child care providers offer higher quality care; and the Independent Living Program, helping foster youth aging out of the system.
Grant’s new role at The Community Partnership was an opportunity to use her skills in a totally different way.
“I was hired a little over nine years ago to open and co-manage The Community Partnership Resale Shop,” said Grant. “Then-executive director Amy Beechner-McCarthy had learned of my retail background and hired me. At the time, Ginger Philpot was the other manager of the store, but she left to return to her background in early childhood teaching. I took on the job as manager when she left."
Grant explained that The Community Partnership was able to open the resale shop with an anonymous donor paying the rent for the first year.
“Our executive director and the board recognized the strong need to diversify the Partnership's funding, since grants are not always renewed nor do they cover everything it takes to run a program or pay for Partnership overhead,” she continued.
“The vision was to open a thrift store with the primary mission to raise funds for The Community Partnership and a secondary mission of being a community center, where alternative shopping could be found, to sell low-cost household, furniture and clothing items, help those in need with store vouchers and provide a meaningful place for people to volunteer in the community.”
Ask anyone in the area, and they will tell you that this mission has definitely been accomplished.
“I love our Resale Shop because of the way we help this community — we always try to live up to our organizational missions. I’ve made many friends in this community through my work. It means a lot to me that I know our proceeds here go to support all the many wonderful programs of the Partnership.”
Grant said that the success of the Partnership Resale Shop allows the parent organization to provide vouchers to those in need. That, she said, is “vital.” She also understands that without volunteer help, the organization and the programs would suffer.
“Our shop volunteers have a high level of satisfaction. They know that giving of their time makes it all possible for us to do what we do to help others.”
“It feels good when people realize that although we are a store, we do have a mission... that our proceeds go to help people right here in their community; that even though our merchandise comes through donations, it does not come without cost to pick up, to process and to staff, and to heat and cool our facility.”
Grant said there is also a cost for some of the donations that are "gifted" after store hours — dirty furniture, mattresses and other items that cost funds to dispose of.
“It is especially hard to say to a generous donor — ‘I can't accept that’ — but sometimes we can’t take everything, because we would just have to pay to dispose of it. It gets more and more costly each year to pay for the disposal of things that we would not be able to sell, or that are broken or dirty.”
Grant believes that the Partnership and its programs empower people.
“They teach people life skills and knowledge to cope with their situation, whether they are a young parent, a foster youth aging out of the system, a child with disabilities and his family, or a childcare provider seeking to improve her program,” she said. “In many cases, our programs are the only ones that provide these particular services.”
Grant feels pride in her work, and in her employer.
“Funds raised here — stay here. People from all parts of the community come together through the Resale Shop — whether they are donors, volunteers, people in need or shoppers — it is a community center just as we envisioned all those years ago.”
The Community Partnership Resale Shop is located at 2100D North Bishop Avenue (Highway 63). The store is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
There is a truck available for large donations, such as furniture and appliances, or for donors who are moving or downsizing and have a large amount of items.
You can follow the shop on Facebook at The Community Partnership Resale Shop. For more information, or to volunteer or schedule a pick-up, you may call 573-426-5923. For more information about The Community Partnership, visit www.thecommunitypartnership.org.