Volunteers needed at Agrace Thrift Store in Janesville

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Shelly Birkelo
Friday, August 15, 2014

JANESVILLE—Karen Collas greeted shoppers at the front of Agrace Thrift Store, where she provides volunteer customer service.

Josie McIntosh was sorting and pricing donations for sale on the floor.

Ellen Ward busied herself in the stock room.

The three Janesville women are among 50 store volunteers.

Twenty more volunteers, 16 and older, are needed, especially for weekend shifts, said Judy Purcell, retail business manager of Agrace thrift stores in Janesville and Madison.

Volunteers are asked to work four-hour shifts once a week Monday through Friday or a shift every other weekend during a minimum six-month commitment, she said.

Customer service and merchandise volunteer options are available, Purcell said.

Those who choose to provide customer service operate the cash register, answer the phone and help customers.

Merchandising involves receiving, sorting and pricing donated items, stocking merchandise on the sales floor and helping create displays, she said.

Volunteers play an important role with Agrace because 100 percent of shop proceeds support the patients and families served by Agrace hospice and palliative care, Purcell said.

The resale shops also support Agrace grief services, clinical education, volunteer training and charity care, she said.

Personal stories of people who used Agrace programs and services led Collas, McIntosh and Ward to volunteer at the Janesville store that opened May 17 at 2043 Humes Road.

It was a natural fit for Collas, a retired teacher, to volunteer after losing a neighbor who received Agrace services.

"Her daughters spoke highly about the compassionate support Agrace provided and how comforting it was to them. I've never heard a bad word about it," she said.

The nonprofit health care organization provides services to patients and families throughout southern Wisconsin.

McIntosh, who is a retired nurse, said Agrace helped a family member.

"I saw what this organization did and how it helped, so I wanted to help," she said.

Agrace cared for Ward's husband for two weeks before he died two years ago.

"They put me at ease," she said.

Ward didn't think she'd ever be able to repay Agrace for what it did for her and her husband. She is volunteering at the store so others can receive the help they did.

"I love it," she said of the staff and volunteers.

"It's a gracious organization and I enjoy it," Ward said of her volunteerism.

Chelsea Smith, Janesville Agrace Thrift Store manager, agreed: "There are a plethora of opportunities with ongoing training."

"They are ambassadors for Agrace," Purcell said.

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