The Liberty Thrift store on North Charlotte Street does a lot of good for a lot of people. As Brian Jones, the Director of Liberty Thrift Stores, explains, Liberty Ministries is a nonprofit business whose purpose for the past thirty years is to provide support for men and women who have been incarcerated start new lives. All proceeds from the Liberty Thrift stores located in Collegeville, Spring City and Pottstown support the aftercare house located in Schwenksville. The house and accompanying program provide support for men transitioning back to the community from prison. However, Liberty Ministries, through the Liberty Thrift stores, impacts many more people than those supported through the aftercare house. Our Liberty Thrift store in Pottstown also supports the development of community and work skills in the Pottstown community.
The Pottstown Store Manager, Veronica Alicea, loves working in an environment where service to the community is a top priority. Service to the community is multi-faceted in that the store brings quality and affordable goods to the community, the proceeds benefit many communities, items that may have been tossed into landfills are recycled and local teens and adults are given opportunities to volunteer. Ms. Alicea indicated that many teens are active in the store on an ongoing basis. For example, she has students from school districts who come in to volunteer in order to meet graduation project requirements. She also has teens that come in to help as part of court ordered community service. Finally, she has students that come in to volunteer so that they can develop their vocational skills for future employment.
The Pottsgrove High School Life Skills class, taught by Melissa DeStefano, volunteers weekly at the Liberty Thrift store. Students, under the supervision of both the thrift store employees and district support staff, perform a number of tasks that build their fine motor, communication, and vocational skills. For example, students help to sort and flatten recycled plastic bags for use in the store. They also prepare newspaper that clerks later use to wrap perishables at checkout. Ms. Alicea is grateful for this support as it saves hours of employee time and helps more of the proceeds go to the people who need help.
Ms. Alicea loves working with the kids on Thursdays and said that it is really incredible how connected the students feel to her staff and the store. “Sometimes, kids will bring their parents into the store in the evening to show off their work place,” Ms. Alicea stated. “I am happy to help them build their skills in the community.”
Thank you Veronica Alicea and Brian Jones for helping Pottsgrove students develop vocational skills and a sense of belonging! Thank you for being an integral community support for education!
According to its website, The Pottstown branch of the Freedom Valley YMCA is more than a gym or a child care center. It is a deeply rooted non-profit organization committed to changing lives in the communities they serve. Caring, honesty, respect and responsibility guide all that they do. Katrina White, a dedicated employee of eleven years, exemplifies those values every day in the work that she does caring for the facility and also for the people who come to her for service opportunities.
Katrina, who works in house keeping, worked with Pottsgrove teachers last summer to provide opportunities that developed vocational skills in students attending the extended school year program at the Pottsgrove High School. She is looking forward to continuing that work in the summer of 2011. Katrina enjoys working with students with special needs to help them develop their skills. She said students completed jobs such as sweeping the stairs, working in the lobby, pool, and gym area to keep things neat, and setting up tables and chairs for special events.
When Katrina talks about helping people, her face lights up and she is eager to give out the secret to her success. “When working with kids, I try to find out what they like to do. I try to make a connection with them. I also give them a lot of praise. I tell them things like, “I can’t wait to see you tomorrow!” Sometimes just knowing you have a friend can make a difference in your work.” Thank you Katrina White for helping Pottsgrove students build vocational skills and self-esteem! Thank you to the Freedom Valley YMCA for being an integral community support for education!