Now that Blessingdales has re-opened its doors to the public, GSOL’s Executive Director Dan Watkins wants to keep it that way! Dan and his Blessingdales crew are going above and beyond to ensure the cleanliness and safety of the resale staff, store, and its donated items. Along with the store’s usual daily disinfectant of all carts, door hands, and switches, Blessingdales has also invested in a new ionized salt water mister.
This new handheld machine allows for the store and all of its contents to be completely sanitized every night. It contains an ionized salt water solution that, when sprayed on the donated items, sanitizes on contact. This ensures that all new items, along with the items being shopped daily, are deep cleaned each and every day!
Watkins states, “I just want our customers to rest assured we not only follow all guidelines given to us, but we also exceed them for our customers’ shopping protection.” Blessingdales and God’s Shelter of Love have been blessed with support from the Decatur community and continue to provide help and hope to those in need.
Following the local and state recommended CDC safety guidelines is just the minimum when it comes to the effort that Decatur’s own Blessingdales Thrift Shop is making to ensure that its customers have the best post-quarantine shopping experience possible!
"I lived at the shelter for an entire year. The shelter was a safe place for me to stay sober and remove myself from access to alcohol; God's Shelter of Love gave me hope."
Kathy first came to us in 2007 - an alcoholic seeking help. She knew that if she wanted to stop drinking, she needed a change in environment. So, on a day where she felt helpless and hopeless, she contacted us. We helped her enroll in Heritage Behavioral Health Center's 30-day detox program. Afterward, she came to live in our women's shelter.
"I couldn't have done it without the shelter," Kathy explains. I needed a soft place to fall. The shelter has become the foundation I never had."
After Kathy got sober and found housing, she started volunteering at Blessingdale's Thrift Store to continue supporting the shelter that gave her so much help and hope.
Kathy now serves as a Resident Supervisor at God's Shelter of Love - providing food, support and love to the homeless women and children seeking a soft place to fall.
"The most rewarding part of my job is to let residents know they are loved and cared for and to share the love of God," says Kathy.
But after two and a half years of him abusing me, I left him. Just about every relationship I’ve been in since has been abusive. I always want to help, but men seem to always take advantage of me. My drinking problem got serious around age 23 or 24.
After 20 years in Colorado, I began missing my family a lot, and I moved in with my sister and her husband in Indiana in 2015. Then my brother-in-law lost his job and they moved to California to live with his father, under cramped conditions. I had a married nephew at Scott Air Force Base near St. Louis, and he invited me to live with him because he had an extra bedroom. But he had marital problems and with all the extra stress, my drinking got out of hand to the point that I ended up in a rehab facility in Centralia, which discharged me to the Freedom House in Decatur.
Their van drove me to the Freedom House in April 2018. For me, so many of the situations were so stressful that my existing problems with depression and anxiety were becoming unmanageable.
In Colorado, I had worked in property management for eight years and was in charge of owner relations for a large company. I also worked as a sales associate at a Pier 1, both in Colorado and then in Fairview Heights. So I had no trouble being hired at the Pier 1 in Forsyth (an hour’s commute by bus). I only get 15 to 20 hours a week as an associate. I could become a lead associate, but I don’t have a car, which is required to make bank deposits. I could have had my own place by now, but I have financially helped my boyfriend and his 70-year-old father, who are also homeless. He’s a really nice guy and treats me very well, but it’s been difficult considering our living situation.
On October 1, I started staying at the Careage House. I was very impressed with the cleanliness and peacefulness there. It was refreshing. I had never set foot in a homeless shelter before. I really appreciate the meals starting November 1. Before that, the most stressful part of my day was trying to figure out how to get something healthy to eat.
I’ve battled drinking for the last 20+ years. I’d love to return to Colorado, but it would have to be a different area, because the people I know there are into a lot of drugs and drinking. When my sister gets her own place in California, I might move there. I’ve been sober a little over seven months now and plan to just keep taking it a day at a time. I hope to have my own place soon and continue to improve my life and myself spiritually and physically.
Thanks to everyone who supports the Careage House; I don’t know where I would be without it!