By Jessica Tuggle
VERO BEACH - What was once 6,300 square feet of air will soon be a bustling business helping homeless families get a fresh start on employment and saving money.
The Homeless Family Center will have a grand opening for A Second Chance Thrift Store and Training Center at 9 a.m. on Nov. 10.
The store is located at 490 Old Dixie Highway in Vero Beach in the Harris Trade Center complex.
The grand opening will be a festive occasion, with children's activities, food and of course, shopping deals.
The store will be a place for the Homeless Family Center to train adults seeking employment in its temporary housing program in the retail industry, said Lorne Coyle, executive director.
The retail industry is a fast-growing business, so preparing them with the skills to land retail jobs will help residents be successful sooner rather than later, he said.
The Homeless Family Center currently has 55 families on its waiting list to enter the temporary housing facility and resident program, Mr. Coyle said.
The center's board is looking at the thrift store as one solution to accelerate the process of helping residents find jobs and be ready to live on their own.
When their current families reach a point where they can sustain themselves again, they graduate the program and new families can be helped, he said.
"It will help the families save money faster, get on their own feet faster, they can leave faster and we can replace them faster," Mr. Coyle said.
The Homeless Family Center has partnered with Indian River State College to build a retail apprenticeship training program, which will instruct adults and older teens on how to succeed in a retail job.
Program participants will learn the importance of arriving on time, personal grooming, appropriate dress, posture, how to carry themselves and more, Mr. Coyle said.
Seven adults are currently studying with an IRSC instructor. After the classes are completed, the adults will move to an apprenticeship at the thrift store, where they will receive a small stipend. After a successful completion of the whole course, they will receive a certificate and a letter of recommendation.
"We will be able to send them to Macy's, to Target, and show them they are good workers," Mr. Coyle said.
Donations of gently used items are currently being accepted at A Second Chance, Mr. Coyle said.
In the staging area there are thousands of clothing items for men, women and children already sorted and countless more boxes to sort through and arrange and that's just the clothes, he said.
Fondue pots, glasses, coffee pots, mixing bowls and other kitchen equipment have already been donated, as have home décor items, books, toys and games.
Mr. Coyle estimates 40,000 items have been donated and processed so far.
Volunteers to help sort and arrange items are also welcome with open arms and will be greatly appreciated, Mr. Coyle said.
No food items are accepted at the thrift store, but they are at the Homeless Family Center.
Large donations, such as couches and tables, are accepted, and can even be picked up if necessary.
"These goods are getting a second chance and the people will, too," Mr. Coyle said.
For more information about the thrift store, call (772) 492-9333 or visit www.facebook.com/asecondchanceHFC or www.homelessfamilycenter.com.