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The Bethesda Thrift Shop

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Featured

Published on November 07, 2018 with No Comments

The Bethesda Thrift Shop is located at 50 Marks Rd in Valparaiso. Business hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, visit www.bethesdalutherancommunities.org or call 219-548-3931. 

Every Wednesday is senior day. All seniors 55 years and older receive 25 percent off all regular priced items, with the exception of new merchandise and other products.

Bethesda Thrift Store supports ministries for those with special need

In the Bible, Bethesda is defined as a pool in Jerusalem that was believed to have healing powers. Although Bethesda Thrift Shop does not have healing powers, it definitely offers a variety of quality resale items. Bethesda Thrift Shop in Valparaiso is one of 16 shops nationwide created by Bethesda Lutheran Communities to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Founded in Watertown, Wisc., in 1904, Bethesda Lutheran Communities was created by a group of Lutheran parents who had children with developmental disabilities and nowhere to take them. These thrift shops help fund group homes and other organizational projects throughout the U.S. Generating an annual profit of $1.2 million could not have been done without the 3,330 volunteers supporting Bethesda. This revenue supports Christian education, custom-built wheelchairs, and personal supplies for the men, women, and children supported by Bethesda.

One volunteer,Anita Graef, founded the Valparaiso store with her husband several years ago. They had had been working in thrift shops for more than 13 years and had previously owned a thrift store.

“I started this store because I knew people with disabilities and wanted to help them,” Graef said. “The most rewarding thing about doing this is knowing that I can help someone that can’t help themselves.”

Graef and her husband still come in every day, and they aren’t even paid staff. The Valparaiso store has only five paid staff members and a team of 25 volunteers.

All of the stores run on donations which can range from baby clothes to old records, and all things are checked and looked over by the volunteers.

“Our store has good donors. They give us great items,” store manager Linda Flener said.

Since the Valparaiso store has 10,000 square feet of space, it can hold plenty of unique items for sale. “Because our store is small, we can put out the best of the best,” Flener said.

The Valparaiso store also prides itself, Flener continued, on courteous service and cleanliness. The staff is friendly and helpful, as the store is laid out in an organized fashion, with daily specials.

Departments include clothing, housewares, cookware, books, DVDs, towels and blanketing, frames and lamps, and toys. Although the store does not have a specific back-to-school section, it does sell dictionaries, notebooks, paper pads, folders, and other materials suitable for a place of work or study.

All of the money made at these stores goes to helping people in need. Joseph Smoot, a marketing director for Bethesda, knows exactly how it can help people.

“While I was visiting a store, a woman came up to me and said that she had been waiting nine years to get in to a group home and that it was the most important thing to happen to her,” he said.

As stated on its website, “Bethesda, with the support of caring dedicated employees, donors, and volunteers, provides people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with home, career, education, and faith resources to live full and empowered lives.”

Bethesda provides support for more than 2,000 persons with disabilities and their families in 13 states, including Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

In Northwest Indiana, Bethesda operates two group homes in Valparaiso and another south of Lowell.

For someone to start volunteering at a Bethesda Resale Shop, the process involves coming in and filling out an application. Bethesda will conduct a background check and will then invite the volunteer if approved. Anyone from church youth groups to people who need community service through the courts have walked through Bethesda’s doors to volunteer.

They are volunteering for a great cause too. In a world where most organizations are only focused on money for the CEOs, Bethesda is focused on helping those in need. They are a great example of what it means to be the hands and feet of God.

The Bethesda Thrift Shop is located at 50 Marks Rd in Valparaiso. For more information on the store or volunteering, visit www.bethesdalutherancommunities.org or call 219-548-3931.

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