The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 6, 2013

Hope Chest Thrift Store gives women second chance

Betsy Bonin thinks working at the Hope Chest Thrift Store will help her turn a corner that other women who have spent time in jail might find daunting.

“I’m in a six-month program that helps you get on your feet with some job skills,” she said. “This job training has really been a lifesaver for me. I have some direction, some stability now.”

Bonin also lives at Hope House, a recovery center that provides mentoring and counseling for women who have been in jail and are re-entering society. The program is approved by the Missouri Department of Corrections, and as many as six to seven women can live in the transitional housing at a time.

The thrift store is an outgrowth of the housing program, said Kathy Wilson, executive director of Helping Hands Housing, which runs both the thrift store and Hope House. Proceeds from thrift store sales help fund Hope House Ministries.

Bonin said she really likes her job and is thrilled to be in the new storefront that Hope Chest Thrift Store recently occupied at 215 E. Seventh St.

“I love the new store. It’s so much better than the old,” she said. “The space is larger, and the location is awesome. I love working with the people and helping them find a bargain. You know, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to look nice.”

Bonin has been on the job since September, after a stint in prison for possession of a controlled substance.

The move to the new storefront from a shopping center at 1651 W. Seventh St. has dramatically increased the thrift store’s visibility.

“The move has doubled our volume, and that happened when our signs went up a few days ago,” Wilson said. “And, it hasn’t let up.”

The new store has 11,000 square feet. That compares with 6,000 square feet in the previous location. It’s stocked with clothing for women, men and children, housewares, books and furniture.

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