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When thrift shopping goes beyond consumerism

Rebecca Najera


At first, East Texas Cornerstone thrift store, aside from being located in an old church, may appear to be just like any other thrift shop. However, with each dollar spent, the customer is helping change someone’s life for the better.

For about three years, the East Texas Cornerstone Assistance Network has been helping people in need get back on their feet. Whether the person is in an emergency situation, or simply just needs a little extra help, Cornerstone welcomes them with open arms.

“[Cornerstone] was born out of a desire,” said Community Relations Director, Becky Duncan. “Things happen to people. They lose their jobs, they get sick. Health costs are so high, you need somebody to fall back on when your resources have already been used.”

To help those needing assistance, the nonprofit organization provides them with the opportunity to work for them. Employment opportunities are available through one of their two thrift stores. People can work in the store, helping to keep things organized, or may work in their merchandising area where they can help carry furniture to and from different locations.

Although Cornerstone is a Christian based organization, they will help anyone in need, and anyone is welcomed to donate. “We don’t ask [them to] convert to Christianity, but we do talk openly about God,” said Duncan.

While some employees leave after receiving the help they need, Pamela Dansby, one of Cornerstone’s receptionists, decided to stay.

“I love being in this environment,” said Dansby.

At this time last year, Dansby, who was a bookkeeper at the time, was hospitalized. After having received five stents and losing her source of income, her bills began to pile up. While trying to find a way to help pay her rent, she was directed to Cornerstone. After being interviewed by the organization, she was soon put to work.

“What their mission statement is all about is to help take that person to the next level and help them soar,” said Dansby. “And that’s what I did.”

Dansby appreciates that Cornerstone employed her, instead of simply giving her a check.

“I’m not a person that likes just handouts,” said Dansby, “When someone is independent, it’s already a problem when they got to go and ask somebody [for help]. When [I] asked and they gave me the opportunity to work for it, I felt in control.”

Being employed through Cornerstone not only helped Dansby get back on her feet but also helped her find a job she enjoyed doing.

“I’ve never, as long as I’ve been working, said I’ve loved a job until now,” said Dansby. “It’s amazing because I can be me.”

Those seeking help must be referred to Cornerstone by a church, school or other organization. A partnership form can be downloaded from their website.

“We don’t want to be alone in our efforts to help someone,” said Duncan. “In that partnership form, the organization that is referring you agrees to help you, because we know Cornerstone is not going to be able to do it by themselves. [But] most importantly, we require that the client has the desire to make changes in their lives.”

Cornerstone also provides classes to teach people how to attain jobs. Two days a week, the classes go over the proper way to dress for an interview, how to apply for a job, and what’s necessary to attain the job the person is interested in.

“Cornerstone is trying to help those that are ready and willing to come to an organization that can help change their lives,” said Duncan. “To help them overcome that hurdle and will then set them on the path to recovery.”

For more information, visit The East Texas Cornerstone Assistance Network’s website: http://www.etcornerstone.org/

Or like them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/etCornerstone/.

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