Jonnycake Thrift Shifting to Youth Center

The Jonnycake Center’s mission is to provide basic needs, resources, and hope to our community members. 

What started as a food pantry and thrift store close to fifty years ago has grown into a robust neighborhood organization that strives to enhance the physical, emotional, and financial health of our 2,000 South County members.

Today, our programs and services are centered around the social determinants of health including housing, education, economic security, health and wellness, and community. We prioritize our programs and services based on feedback from our members.  A recent survey of member households found key priorities to be healthy eating and physical activity, affordable housing, youth enrichment, and economic empowerment.

To fulfill these needs, we recently renovated the former Peace Dale grammar school to house our expanded food pantry and provide space for cooking classes, nutrition education, workshops, and wellness initiatives.  This week, we will begin renovating four, multi-unit properties in Peace Dale to provide safe, suitable housing to as many as fifteen local families struggling to afford to stay close to their jobs, schools, and families. 

As a next step toward meeting the unmet needs of Jonnycake members and continuing to build community, we will repurpose our thrift store to become a youth center. Our goal is to give local youth a safe place to gather, create, and have access to mentors who can support them during their transition to adulthood.

For several years, the parents and grandparents we serve have highlighted the need for a safe space for middle-schoolers and teens to gather after school for enrichment, academic support, and socialization. This past summer we piloted a youth drop-in program and the consistent turn out confirmed the need.

We are beginning to consider the opportunities we might offer and will need to make upgrades to the building before we open the doors (hopefully) this spring. We recently created a youth development committee, as part of our board of directors, that will include board members, as well as representatives from the school department, police department, and Peace Dale community. The committee will help us further develop the youth center and other children’s enrichment opportunities.

We are thrilled to have Duran Searles, owner of Painted Karma, as part of the team working on this initiative. Duran has served as a mentor to many local youth through his engagement with the high school basketball team and as the Jonnycake Center’s new part-time youth organizer. 

We recognize the thrift store is a beloved institution and has been part of the fabric of Peace Dale for close to a half century. The importance of the thrift store to our mission, however, has waned. 

Revenue from the store has decreased over the past several years in part because of the pandemic and competition we face with online, “fast” fashion. The revenue generated from the store as a share of our overall budget has dropped from 25 percent to 7 percent. Furthermore, we increasingly must find alternative ways to meet the clothing and houseware needs of our members who can’t find what they need in the thrift store. 

We are eternally grateful to the donors who have dropped off countless bags and boxes of clothing, housewares, and holiday decorations. We are especially grateful to our dedicated volunteers and staff who have sorted through what can feel like endless piles of donations, helping us turn one person’s throw aways into another person’s treasure. Finally, thank you to our loyal shoppers who we know come not just for the goods, but for the comradery and fellowship.  

The store will officially close October 21st as the Center prepares to use the building to host its annual holiday toy and gift distribution.  

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Other Consignment Shops

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