are those who dream and those who "do." Occasionally, there are
dreamers who are also "doers" --- like Fran Pitts, a parishioner
of St. John Fisher
Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, who dreams big and
then does what it takes to make the dream reality.
three years ago Fran combined years of National Charity League experience,
outreach ministry with her parish, an awareness of the needs of the poor
and an incredible ability to organize people, into a win-win situation for
volunteers and the recipients of the volunteer labor.
successfully spearheaded the creation of a thrift shop that disburses
notable sums of money to over a dozen charitable organizations in the South Bay
and greater Los Angeles
area. In less than three years the thrift shop --- Palos Verdes Resale ---
has raised more than $400,000 for agencies such as the Presentation Learning
Center, Saints Peter and Paul Poverty Program, Meals on Wheels, House of
Yahweh, House of Hope, Agape, Casa de Angelitos, Daughters of Mary and
Joseph, Sisters of Charity, STAR (Society to Air Retarded), Downtown
Women's Center, Christian Outreach in Action, and Miller Children's
Hospital special fund for infants.
agreement of the board and volunteers, funds raised through the shop are
given to agencies that do not receive federal aid. They pride themselves on
giving to "little people," the smaller groups that are often
overlooked because they serve fewer needy than larger agencies.
initial plan took only a year to implement. A board was formed, meetings
were held, a good location was researched, legal and business professionals
assisted, and the grand opening was held Aug. 23, 2005. Since that day
there has been no looking back, only success with organizing and selling
whatever comes in by way of donation.
proceeds, far more than ever dreamed of, are disbursed in a very democratic
fashion. Volunteers have a vote in where the money raised is distributed.
For every hour worked at the shop, a volunteer has one vote to cast for the
charity of his or her choice; more hours served at the shop equals more
votes. Each quarter the votes are tallied and the proceeds are
disseminated, based on the votes of the volunteers, to those on the
established list of charities. This inventive and motivational technique
gives each volunteer a feeling of ownership in the sales of the shop and
the opportunity to direct financial assistance to a charity that is near
and dear to their hearts.
original volunteers from St. John Fisher continue to support the shop and
remain the core of the endeavor, but other parishes and the community at
large have now joined their volunteer ranks making this quite a
collaborative effort. The day I visited the shop was buzzing with men and
women going through boxes of donations to determine what they could sell,
what needed to be refurbished and what was to be handed on as free donations
to individuals or other charities.
system of keeping the merchandise moving is both meticulous and amazing.
Anything not sold within two weeks is marked down to half-price. Any of
these items still unsold after another week are put into a special
"Dollar Day" sale that takes place regularly in the parking lot
behind the shop. "Dollar Day" draws large crowds and is a
surprisingly lucrative part of the shop's revenue.
The volunteers, wonderful workers that
they are, acknowledge that they have a higher mission. Fran says they are
all aware that they are the face of the Church in the community and they
remind themselves often that the kindness, caring and the respect they show
all customers are as important as the money they make.
success of Palos Verdes Resale has not gone unnoticed. It has received
several community awards and Fran Pitts, president of the board, was
recognized by Bishop
School as a graduate who exhibits remarkable
Christian service to the community. Retired San Pedro Regional Auxiliary
Bishop Joseph Sartoris is a special friend who visits and supports the
that the shop is established and doing well, Fran is hoping to advise other
interested parishes on how they can open similar shops to serve the poor in
their communities, with Palos Verdes Resale serving as a pilot program. The
possibilities are exciting.
Verdes Resale is located at 2321 Pacific Coast Highway, Rancho Palos Verdes; contact Fran Pitts
at (310) 534-1722. Anne Hansen is a member of the Camarillo Catholic community. Her e-mail
address is firstname.lastname@example.org.