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Despite loss of thrift store funds, VOA serves vulnerable

The Volunteers of America Thrift Store at 1010 N. Atlantic has been homeless since its roof collapsed under the weight of snow from storms in December and January.

Despite the impact of loss of that program and its funds, VOA Spokane continues to serve.

The building has been destroyed and is now condemned.  The 30 staff members have been unemployed since then. 

The loss of sales may leave VOA short $100,000 in funding in a tight time, because Thrift Store proceeds have financed its services of housing and support programs for homeless and vulnerable people, including the Crosswalk teen shelter and Hope House women’s shelter, according to Marilee Roloff, executive director of Volunteers of America Spokane.

Bill and Theresa Mitchell, who have managed the second-hand store since 1978, said the inventory was lost. 

Marilee said VOA Spokane is seeking to find new retail space.  VOA, which was leasing the space, awaits word on insurance coverage on the inventory.

“It’s a big hit,” she said.  “VOA has been here and will still be here.”

Meanwhile, VOA plans its annual “I Remember Mama,” a tribute luncheon for more than 100 elderly or disabled women who would otherwise be alone on Mother’s Day.  It is on Sunday, May 10, at the Red Lion Inn at the Park.

VOA collects donations of $25 from people in honor of their mothers, grandmothers or special friends, and then sends Mother’s Day cards for the donor.

The funds sponsor women for the event and to help other mothers through the year.

VOA serves 12,000 plates of food a year at the Crosswalk shelter and drop-in center, serving thousands of teens with the assistance of volunteer meal providers, most of whom prepare the meals on site at 525 W. Second.  About 50 churches, sororities, families and businesses prepare lunches and dinners for 25 to 40 Crosswalk teens.

Although she has been concerned through the state legislative session about possible budget cuts, Marilee said “We continue to do what must be done, walk among the most vulnerable among us as they rebuild their lives.”

She knows they will “weather the storm” to serve street youth, homeless women, disabled vets, mentally-ill adults and needy families.

On Tuesday, May 5, VOA opens Eagles Nest, a new six-bed transitional home for homeless veterans.  Twelve AmeriCorps volunteers from the ESD101 Spokane Service Team have been renovating the 1970s house.  The first group of homeless vets move in this summer.

Vets can stay up to two years while a case manager connects them to benefits, health care, job training, employment, counseling, mental health and substance abuse treatment and other services.

About 65 percent of renovation funds came from the Veterans Administration; the rest are from local Veterans of Foreign Wars posts and from downtown Spokane’s Rotary Club 21.

Expansion is also in the works for Maud’s House, a prisoner re-entry program started in June 2008 to provide wraparound support for individuals released from jail.  It’s a collaboration of VOA, Goodwill Industries, Transitions and Spokane County.

For information, call 624-2378 or visit. Volunteers of America Spokane