Upper Room resale shop sales help local nonprofit organizations
BY MIKE AVERILL World Staff Writer
Thursday, August 02, 2012
8/02/12 at 7:40 AM
Rosita Martin was born in 1941 during an air raid in Berlin, Germany.
She remembers watching Soviet troops enter the city as she went down into a bunker. And she remembers walking over dead bodies the day after the war.
But it was the CARE package that was dropped during the Berlin Airlift in 1948 that had the biggest impact on her life.
"That someone I didn't know sent me a food package - I still cry," she said. "That stuck with me my whole life."
Nearly 50 years later, Martin realized how she could provide others with a similar feeling.
She was traveling with friends on Cape Cod, and they weren't able to find a Lutheran church, so they decided to attend a church pancake breakfast. As she was in line, she overheard the pastor discussing the success of its resale shop.
"It was the light bulb moment. I thought, 'Why can't we do that?' " she said.
Martin and fellow volunteers opened the Upper Room resale shop in the Grace Lutheran Church, 2331 E. Fifth Place, in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood later that year, 1999.
The ministry sells donated clothing, housewares and other goods to families in need at reduced prices, and it donates the proceeds to other area nonprofit organizations helping the needy.
"It's a double-edged blessing," Martin said. "The things we sell are inexpensive, and the money we make does good."
The shop started out as a part of the Lutheran Women's Mission League but is now a separate entity from the church and is made up completely of volunteers, so all the money made goes back into the community.
"We felt like whatever proceeds we bring in we're going to give away again. We don't keep any money around," Martin said.
Over the years, the Upper Room has provided more than $100,000 to Lutheran organizations, including money for seminary students, U.S. and world relief efforts including CARE, and several local projects, including the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless, Iron Gate and Meals on Wheels.
It has also helped fund a number of projects in the Kendall-Whittier area, including seed grants for projects with the elementary school that the church ended up carrying on, Martin said.
Christopher Hall, the senior pastor at Grace Lutheran, said: "There are always people in the neighborhood in need. It's our job to share with the poor."
The shop sells household items, clothing, books, baby clothes, DVDs, coats, hats and knickknacks, Martin said.
Hall said he likes the local nature of the shop.
"We're not a huge thrift store," he said. "We serve a neighborhood here in Kendall-Whittier."
Longtime volunteer Jane Frost said it's important for the church to support its neighborhood.
"I love knowing we're doing something for people in need in our community," she said.
Upper Room resale shop
Where: Grace Lutheran Church, 2331 E. Fifth Place
When: 8 a.m.-noon the first Saturday of each month
To donate: 918-592-2999
Original Print Headline: Support through sales
Mike Averill 918-581-8489
Volunteer Ella Ray Rodden hangs clothing at the Upper Room resale shop in Grace Lutheran Church. The ministry sells donated clothing, housewares and other goods to needy families at reduced prices and donates the proceeds to other nonprofit organizations. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Mary Rabenaldt (left) and Jane Frost, volunteers at the Upper Room, price glasses at the resale shop in Grace Lutheran Church. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Patsy Postier sorts clothes at the Upper Room resale shop at Grace Lutheran Church. The shop is a separate entity from the church and is made up completely of volunteers. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World