It’s only a few more days before the Shelter Thrift Shop in Schaumburg will close for good. On a Wednesday afternoon in mid-September a special group of volunteers is sorting and pricing the last several donations in anticipation of the shop’s final sale. In spite of the sadness at seeing the shop shut its doors, they’re taking time to celebrate a birthday, look through the shop’s commemorative scrapbook, and talk about their experiences.
Linda Ciosek has been volunteering at the shop for sixteen years. Before that she worked as a school secretary. “The comradery, laughter, and sharing has been very enriching,” she said. “Pat, our manager is amazing with the staff and customers. We brainstorm ways to help keep the shop going; we feel invested in it. There are so many needy families. We provide toys and clothes.”
Carmella, formerly a nurse, said her best experienc e is “meeting every single one of these ladies; they’re incredible. I wish there was another word to describe them.” She still uses her nursing skills to help her neighbors. After the shop closes she declared, “I will do whatever I can do. I work with seniors, take them to the doctor.”
When Tisha Schumacher, a former law office manager, moved out to the suburbs to be closer to her daughter, her sister Georgeann Cartina introduced her to the shop. “People are friendly,” she said. “Even the customers.” Working in the shop gives her a chance to get out and now she’s thinking of volunteering at one of the local hospitals.
And speaking of Georgeann, she too, echoes what her sister has said. A former hairdresser for many years, she enjoys working with people. “The Wednesday group is fantastic. Pat is awesome.”
Carol Pawlowski says the Wednesday group is a great family. “It’s my therapy day,” she laughed. She will continue to volunteer at the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry at St Marcelline Catholic Church in Schaumburg.
A team member who happened to be absent that day is Alice Wahlquist. All the ladies wanted to be certain her name was mentioned. “She’s positive, encouraging and truly cares about supporting the store,” one volunteer said and all agreed.
Pat Cinquini, the store manager, will miss all her workers. “They’re so dedicated to helping abused kids. They come in here, see what has to be done and do it. I came here to work for two months and stayed two years. It will be so hard to say goodbye to them. They’re everything you would want in a volunteer.”
Shelter provides emergency housing for abused and neglected children, parents with drug dependency, domestic abuse, and so much more. Mary Green is the volunteer coordinator and has been with Shelter less than a year. “Sometimes we have to pick up children in the middle of the night,” she explained. “They may leave their home with only the clothes on their back.”
Shelter, Inc. still has opportunities for those who wish to volunteer and contribute to the valuable services Shelter offers. “We have a golf outing, a 5K race and a charity ball for those who wish to help with events. Now they are gearing up for Christmas and donations will be needed for children’s toys and clothing.
Although the ladies will miss seeing each other and working together on Wednesdays, they are already planning monthly gatherings to keep in touch. Another perk for those who volunteer—the opportunity to form lifelong friendships.
These dedicated volunteers have been meeting at the Shelter Inc. Thrift Shop every Wednesday to sort and price merchandise, but also catch up on each other’s news and give support when needed. Left to right: Carol Pawlowski, Tisha Schumacher, Carmella Squeo, Linda Ciosek and Georgeann Cartina. Not pictured, but important part of the team: Alice Wahlquist.
Senior Corps-RSVP thanks the entire group of Shelter Thrift Shops volunteers for their years of service and dedication to Shelter, Inc.
Other opportunities to make new friends and create long time friendships: