By Katie Demeria
EDINBURG -- Shen-Paco Executive Director K.K. Stroop has seen an outpouring of support from the community. And she said she is hoping that support will continue to allow Shen-Paco to provide meaningful jobs to those they serve.
The agency's new thrift shop, Shen-Paco Gift and Thrift, is scheduled to open Saturday at 18598 Old Valley Pike in Edinburg, just outside Woodstock. Stroop said many local residents, mostly in Shenandoah County, have stepped forward to make donations to the shop.
"I've been so impressed with the community support; it's been great," Stroop said. "We've had a few people call us so we could go pick up housefuls of stuff. I just want to thank everyone."
Even more than a week before the store was set to open, it was full of donated items, cleaned and ready to be sold.
Stroop came up with the idea to open the shop about a week after the agency lost its biggest contract with Hangers Unlimited earlier this year.
Shen-Paco serves disabled individuals in the community who, without the agency, would have no other means of employment. Sorting hangers provided daily jobs for the agency's clients. Without the contract, Stroop was not certain how they could provide work for the 150 they serve.
The "gift" portion of the shop's name comes from handmade items the clients make themselves. Right now, colorful wreaths decorate the walls around the shop, ready to be sold.
Clients have been busy making the wreaths over the last few weeks, but even that amount of work is not enough to keep them busy throughout the year.
"Our folks are like everybody else, they just want to have a job and work hard," Stroop said.
The thrift shop will be able to provide work for Shen-Paco's clients -- though probably not as much as the hanger contract provided.
"It's going to make up for some slack, I'm hoping at least," Stroop said.
Already the agency's clients have worked to clean and prepare donated items. Kelly Atkins, the shop's manager, said she thinks the shop will work well.
Clients will sort donations, clean and work at the store itself a few days a week, Atkins said. They are also hoping to have a client work at the register.
Stroop said one of the benefits of having the store and encouraging their clients to interact with members of the community will be a stronger acceptance in the area of those they serve.
"I wanted to do this so we could provide jobs for our folks and let the community see that our people do want to work and can work," Stroop said. "I've been in this field my whole life, so to me they're not any different than anybody else, but to a lot of people it's not like that."
The agency is renting its current space just outside Woodstock, and due to a kind member of the community, Stroop said, they will get the first year free.
They also wanted to start a shop in Page County, she added, but cannot yet afford rent.
The agency is still looking for more local businesses to fill the void left by their former hanger contract. For more information, or to make a donation to the thrift shop, call Shen-Paco's Quicksburg office at (540) 477-2049.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org