Thrift stores help trainees and FD

Fort Dodge’s nonprofit thrift stores not only benefit individuals, but also the community. These benefits are achieved through volunteerism.

Lisa Dodgen, Village General Store manager, said volunteers “are our life blood.”

“We always need volunteers,” Dodgen said. “The way Village General Store works is there are three full-time paid employees. Anything else gets done by our volunteers. So the majority of the work here is either done by the volunteers or the trainees, which are special needs adults who are gaining job skills.”

Village General Store, at 12 N. 25th St., is associated with Opportunity Village and Northwoods Living.

“It’s special needs adult, here in this community and surrounding communities,” Dodgen said. “It’s providing services for special needs adults.”

Among the programs benefiting from the store, Dodgen said, is Townsquare Apartments in downtown Fort Dodge.

“What the government pays to provide services to people, that usually covers the cost, but to be able to provide extras and really great programs for special needs adults, then it takes places like this to raise the extra money to be able to provide those things,” she said.

The Key on Central, at 1030 Central Ave., benefits the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center.

According to Coordinator Brenda McBride, the services provided by D/SAOC are helped by the nonprofit thrift shop.

“We have one full-time staff person, the manager, and the remainder of our help is volunteers,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to have our store without the use of our volunteers.”

The Fort Dodge Goodwill, at 2735 Fifth Ave. S., uses its income to hire individuals in need.

“We benefit individuals with boundaries, who sometimes don’t have the hard skills or soft skills to go out there and do things on their own right now,” Erin Panbecker, community liaison, said.

The nonprofit also uses its monies for local programs, including its Youth Employment Services, or YES, program.

“The kids from the high school come and I give them the skills they need to go out there after high school and get a job,” Panbecker said.

Another program provided by Goodwill is “employment specialists,” according to Panbecker.

“I’ll go with other individuals outside the community and help them find a job,” she said. “I will job coach them and shadow them until the employer feels they don’t need me there anymore.”

This program, in its first few weeks, has been going “pretty well,” Panbecker said.

YES has been going on for a full year.

To volunteer at Village General Store, contact Kris Hillmer-Pierson, volunteer coordinator, 573-4046. To volunteer at the Key on Central, contact Brenda McBride, 955-2273.