FROM Volunteers Drop by a Third, More Help Needed

Wendie Preiss, executive director of Flat River Outreach Ministries, would love to see the Treasures Thrift Shop open for extended hours this holiday season. However, that won’t be possible without the help of more volunteers.

In fact, the non-profit shop is currently operating at only 88% of its previous hours because FROM is having trouble finding people to man the cash register. It also needs workers to sort donations and manage inventory.

“We’ve been gradually increasing hours, but we’re kinda stuck where we are,” Preiss says.

Overall, the non-profit has lost 25-30% of its volunteers in recent months. A number of workers are older or in high-risk categories for COVID-19 and have understandably decided to stay home for the time being. Others decided to reduce their weekly hours while still others simply haven’t responded to communications from FROM.

With Treasures Thrift Shop generating a third of FROM’s revenue, Preiss and her staff are looking for new volunteers to help fill the gaps. Volunteers are only asked to fill a single 3-hour shift per month, and the work comes with fringe benefits such as a shop discount and the satisfaction of helping community members.

Simplified Volunteer Enrollment Process, Minimal Commitment

Normally, volunteers for FROM would first attend an orientation session before being assigned to a role within the food pantry, thrift shop or administrative office.

However, the organization now has a simplified process which allows people to fill out a volunteer form online. The form asks for contact information, availability and consent to conduct a background check. Once the background check is completed, volunteers can begin immediately and sign up for an orientation class at a later date.

People can try out a number of different roles at FROM to find the best fit, and options include the following:

  • Assisting in the food pantry
  • Sorting donations to Treasures Thrift Shop
  • Manning the register at Treasures Thrift Shop
  • Stocking shelves and arranging displays
  • Answering phones
  • Helping with mailings

Volunteers can be as young as 15, making this a good opportunity for teens to earn community service hours. Younger children can help as well but only if they are working alongside their parents. Given the current COVID pandemic, volunteers must wear masks.

FROM asks volunteers to commit to a single 3-hour shift each month although many people help out more frequently. After 10 hours, volunteers are eligible to receive a 25% discount on purchases from Treasures Thrift Shop. However, a sense of community is the biggest volunteer benefit, Preiss says, and many volunteers make new friends while helping out at FROM.

“We have no intention of reducing our programming,” Preiss says. Thanks to an outpouring of support from the community during the pandemic, FROM has been able to continue offering assistance with utility payments, rent and other needs. Still, the non-profit needs volunteers to ensure it has the revenue needed from Treasures Thrift Shop to continue providing a full range of services to the community.

If you are able to help, fill out the volunteer form on the FROM website. You can also call or text 897-8260 for more information.

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