Friday, March 9, 2012

Washed Up Treasure Op Shops - Emerton

Thanks to Jennifer  from The Women's Activities & Self Help House

Can you tell me a little about yourself and what you do at you op shop

My name is Jenny, I am a qualified community worker with a degree in Social Science, I have worked at the WASH House for 5 years, originally I was the Community Development worker. I have been managing the Emerton Community Project for the past 4 years. The project consists of a community centre and two op shops, one is the clothing shop offering affordable fashion for all the family, shoes, videos, books and the other is the Furniture shop which offers a large range of furniture and house-hold goods.The shops are staffed 6 days per week by a dedicated team of volunteers from the local community.

The front of the clothing shop

How long have the op shops been open?

The ECP incorporating the 2 op shops began in late 1999 to provide an outlet for affordable household goods and furniture - an essential service to a community with significant levels of poverty.

The front of the Furniture Shop

Can you tell us about your volunteers?

Volunteers come from a range of cultural and educational backgrounds. Many experience physical or mental health issues; have low literacy; and are socially isolated. Volunteering at the project provides them with an opportunity to connect to their community; increase social supports; build self esteem; develop positive role models in the local community and create pathways to education & employment.The opportunity to volunteer and/or participate in group work programs (including facilitation) has the potential to provide numerous opportunities and benefits for women.

Volunteer, Mary AKA Mrs Fix-it

Volunteers range from Centrelink , Probation & Parole, & self referrals. Several of the volunteers team have been here since the inception of the project. Each volunteer is  encouraged to utilize their special skills i.e. Mary is our Mrs Fix-it, very skilled with home ware & electrical repairs, Clare is our Librarian who takes care of the books, videos & DVDs, Hena is extremely skilled using the clothes steamer, Barbara is great at window dressing, while others like to vacuum or price & display clothing. Our youngest volunteer is in her mid twenties while our eldest is 80 years of age.

Volunteer Beverley in the clothing shop

What does the op shop fundraise for? Can you tell us about

The WASH House envisages a community in which women exercise equal rights, choose their own destiny and have a safe environment for themselves and their family. We work towards realising this vision for the women of Mt Druitt community by providing information, community development, counseling, support services & group work. The WASH House is a service run by women for women.

The aim of the WASH House is to improve the quality of life of women in the Mt Druitt community by reducing the impact of poverty, discrimination, social disadvantage and violence on their lives. We do this through the provision of services responsive to women aiming to enhance the community by advancing education and increasing social  and economic participation.

All profits from Washed Up Treasure Opportunity shops help to provide free services for women.

The Emerton Community Project provides information & referral and free groups for women Mon-Thurs including: massage appointments, Greening the WH (Gardening) group where women can obtain TAFE accredited horticulture units, Card Creations, Scrap Booking, Jewelery making, Needles & Hook (Crochet & Knitting) group, Luncheon Connection, Folk Art.

What do you think people like about your op shop?

The friendly service, cheap prices, range of goods, lay bye facility (helps people on low incomes to budget)

In 2009 one of our volunteers Norma Whitby won Blacktown City Council ‘Women of the Year’ Award for her volunteering contribution to the community.

In 2010 we were Winners in the Mount Druitt Standard Newspaper Business Excellence award for Community Services.

In 2011 We were awarded a federal Award from Chiefly  Ed Husic, MP for  ‘Outstanding Community Service’ and on 28 February 2012 , Ed Husic MP, our local member mentioned the outstanding work the project does in federal parliament.

Feb 2012 some of the volunteers with Ed Husic, Chifley Federal MP
Do you have regulars?

Yes, we definitely have our regulars, many people are lonely & isolated so enjoy calling in most days for a friendly welcome & chat with the volunteers. Our book & video lovers like to see if new stock has been put out. Sometimes customers will bring the volunteers a cake or a bottle of soft drink, which is really lovely. We also host the ‘Biggest Morning Tea’ in May for the entire week, inviting customers to partake for a donation to the Cancer Council, which we dedicate to all women who have lost their life from cancer, including some of our own volunteers.

What have been some stand out donations, they may be valuable, funny or unexpected....

We recently had ‘Victoria Beckham’ jeans and we currently have a vintage pale blue 1950’s  style dress (pictured). We recently sold a beautiful beaded wedding dress & veil, which fitted the customer like a glove, she was thrilled. Currently we have  an antique fireplace mantle with wrought iron insert $200 and a hand painted antique biscuit barrel (pictured). We have had a brand new toilet & yes even a kitchen sink.All our electrical items are safety tagged by a qualified volunteer & tested that they are in working order.

Vintage dress currently for sale

Do you shop in other op shops?

Having never worked in retail before I do like to snoop in other op shops, to see how stock is displayed and to check out prices. I’ve never taken so much notice of shop fittings & window displays before, it gives me inspiration for our shops.

What are the hardest things about running op shops in your opinion?

Seriously there is nothing hard about running the shops, I think because the WASH House has such a great reputation having been assisting women in the Mt Druitt area for the past 30 years, we are never short of donations or volunteers. I think the volunteers stay because they are valued & appreciated. It truly is a pleasure to come to work each day, I enjoy the volunteers, customers & women who come to groups.

Antique Biscuit barrel currently for sale
What is the best thing about your op shops?

Whoops, I think I answered that one above. Donations of household goods, furniture including beds, and electricals are always welcome, pick up of larger items is  available. As we have had  no funding since 2007, we have no budget for advertising, and can only rely on the areas local newspapers for advertising support. All Fundraising supports the Women’s Activities & Self Help (WASH) House which provides an extensive range of free services for women. Please see web site for more information.

Thanks again Jennifer!

The op shops can be found at Emerton Shopping Centre, Jersey Road

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