It Takes The Village

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What has existed in Suffield for 42 years, has 129 volunteers, and sells and donates clothing, collectibles, and linens? The Second Chance Shop! The purpose of the store is to help families and children in need. All profits go to Hartford’s Village for Families and Children. Every day that the shop is open, its profits help children and families heal from trauma and improve their social and emotional coping skills. It also helps The Village provide counseling and therapy, school readiness programs, home visits for new parents, mentoring programs, parenting classes, a financial literacy program, teen pregnancy and truancy prevention programs, foster parenting, and adoption.

The shop is open six days a week, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and thus the need for many volunteers! The shop accepts cash, personal checks, and credit card payments.

I set up an interview with Marge Martin, the volunteer with the longest association with the Second Chance Shop. She is a charming and vivacious 92-year-old who first began working with a precursor shop in 1958. That is 58 years of volunteer work. Marge and “best bud” Landa Duckrow, worked together in the early 1970’s. They were instrumental in opening a shop whose purpose was to help truly needy individuals. This shop was in a building on North Main Street. Marge and Landa then took their volunteerism to the “old shop” in 1975, which was located in the apartment building basement on the corner of High Street and Mountain Road. Despite water problems and crowded conditions, the volunteers shouldered on and provided clothing, furniture, toys, books, and collectibles at modest prices. Marge laughed heartily as she recalled the damp and sometimes moldy clothing the volunteers would go through to ready the pieces for the shop. She liked the old days when coats and clothing were given at no cost to patrons who needed them. Though now the prices are higher, the profits from the shop still support people in need. It has been agreed that the method may be different, but the outcome of the sale of clothing still supports people in need.

Another long-time member, Doris Lozier, shared that there were two-inch spaces at the bottom of the old shop’s doors. When it rained, water would pour right down the steps and into the shop, where the volunteers wore boots all day. Snakes would also occasionally appear in the backroom of that shop. Doris said the volunteers felt that despite the travails, they believed in their support of The Village and its good works.

One of the members who has a professional background in marketing, posted on a group on Facebook about a shop sale. Here is what a customer, Kathryn, wrote back: “We went today and found some great deals on back-to-college items for my daughter! Very friendly staff there, too, and we are looking forward to going back. My daughter wants the volunteers to know that she would like to adopt them all.”

An 85-year-old woman stopped by the shop to say that she was a resident at The Village from ages 3-5 and that The Village, “saved her life” because she had scarlet fever at a time prior to the release of medicine for the disease. Another woman stopped by recently to say that she had been adopted through The Village at age four.

Both these testimonials give a perspective on why we do what we do.

Co-President, Lee Galluccio added. “I am proud of our dedicated volunteers who help make this endeavor work. I am also grateful to the communities which support us. We are fortunate to have a strong relationship to The Village itself. This role continues to be an exciting part of my life.”

Volunteer Lynn Weisel said , “I started working at the shop when I moved back to the area after many years away, and found a community that embraced me. I love so much about the shop; that it keeps items out of landfills, that you can find beautiful items at such a low cost, and that it exists to support The Village.”

It was recently pointed out at our general meeting on June 8 that, since the year 2000, our shop has given over a half million dollars to The Village for Families and Children. We appreciate all our great customers and their support. Perhaps you might consider becoming a volunteer with the rest of our fine group. We have literature in the shop about volunteering and all other aspects of the shop.

The Second Chance Shop looks forward to accepting your donations of gently used clothing in good repair, collectible items such as china, glassware, and framed artwork. Also accepted are linens such as fabric, quilts, curtains, tablecloths, napkins, and placemats. We cannot accept toys and electrical items. The shop is in the Mountain Road Shops, at 140 Mountain Road. Call us at 860-668-2841.

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