The East Palestine First United Presbyterian Church on Rebecca Street has a long history of outreach in its community. Before COVID-19 shut their doors the church was regularly conducting community meals and ran Kingdom’s Kloset, a free clothing giveaway generally open during the community meals. In the past the church worked with The Salvation Army to process applications for cash assistance, they housed a Summer Meals feeding site, and administered kids outreach composed of breakfast and classes. Though this congregation is small, composed of approximately 20 congregates, they’ve made a huge effort to support the people in their community.
The First United Presbyterian Church’s rich history of outreach made the new partnership with The Way Station a no-brainer. The congregation hopes that this partnership will produce a few things; revenue, a tried and tested model, connection to developed relationships, and long-term potential.
The hope is that a steady revenue will permit two things; the hire of a Store Manager and the assurance that the local community will have access to used quality clothing at a reasonable price for years to come. Another incentive for FUPC was that the TWS thrift store model was established. There is no starting from scratch. As the volunteer staff at FUPC work to prepare the new store they’re doing it with TWS guidance and encouragement.
When one partners with The Way Station the community doesn’t just get a thrift store the community gains access to the partnerships and programs TWS has cultivated over the years as well. For example, The First United Presbyterian Church will become a distribution site for baby’ diapers through Project MKC. Individuals and families will also have access to free hygiene items, adults and youth diapers, and female menstrual products.
The long-term goal is to be able to offer the same programs that are currently available through the East Liverpool and Columbiana Way Station sites. These programs include Jobs; Ready, Set, Go, Pathways to Independence, Side-by-Side, GLOW, and a community food pantry.
The East Palestine store will open May 6th with regular starting hours of 10:00 am – 3:00 Thursdays and Fridays.