An early Easter and an early spring! Aren’t we the lucky ones this year!
Indeed, the buds are already falling on the skimpy remains of the snow; the weeping willows are changing their fronds to yellow–a sure sign that the sap is rising; and the maple syrup is flowing. Oh, how sweet it is! For me, though, the biggest treat of all is hearing and seeing the geese as I travel through the John Abbot Campus. What a delight!
This has been an unusual winter for the Thrift Shops for Nova: for whatever reason, our donations have been a bit slower than I remember, and throughout February we had to rely on our previously stored inventory. Thanks to the sorters, who so diligently packed and stored away last year’s excess seasonal donations, we were able to get through this dismal period and keep up with offerings for our valued customers. We are very grateful to all those involved in this solution.
Unfortunately, this winter gave us other challenges too. We had to deal with Hydro power outages, a couple of freezing-rain and snow-storm sessions, and the resulting unwelcome shop closings. We were not spared in the health department either: an unbelievable number of us were either ill ourselves or dealing with tending unwell family members. Still we managed to operate, although sometimes with less than half the shift. Even our dedicated scheduler, manages to soldier on (with her broken wrist and elbow) and keep the schedules up to date. Everyone has pulled together amazingly well to make things work. Well done. We did it.
Remarkably, sales have not faltered, and we are actually ahead of last year with our financial donations to Nova West Island. To add to this positive note, our first 50% sale was a smashing success! Reducing our inventory, particularly of clothing, is a much welcome tonic during spring clean-up. And, of course, it allows us to make room for the beautiful, light and bright colours of the new season.
In other good news, we wish to welcome back our wonderful Bargain Alley crew! We missed you and we were all overjoyed to see the doors opened again on the 15th of March.
Now we all anticipate the return of our snow birds. Hurry back soon! We need you to relieve our weary souls.
We’re experimenting here with a brand new format of what we hope will be a quarterly newsletter for The Thrift Shops for Nova West Island–for both our volunteers and our customers. This seasonal newsletter will be included here in the blog and will be accessible by all who are able to find us on the internet. It is a work-in-progress, so we may have some details to iron out, but with your help, encouragement and support, we’ll get there. Thanks for your patience while we smooth out the wrinkles.
We welcome your public comments here on the blog as well as your private ones via email at email@example.com.
A Huge Thank You to a Recent Donor
We recently received an extremely generous donation from Mr. David Eke, an avid reader with an exceptional love of music and books. We are thrilled to receive his entire collection of books and CD’s, as well as furniture, lamps, and various other items. We are also thrilled to be able to make these items available to our valued customers. We know they will bring you tremendous joy. Check out our donor’s treasured collections at the Thrift Shops in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and Beaconsfield.
We wish to send Mr. Eke and his family very sincere thanks for this wonderful donation.
Thanks to Team Thunder
Team Thunder in Kirkland
On a recent sunny Friday morning, Team Thunder ventured forth through the cold to explore the Thrift Shops for Nova’s exquisite boutique on St-Charles Blvd. in Kirkland. The purpose of this visit was to chat with Miss Edith and her thrift store associates. Miss Edith currently resides in DDO with her husband Sam, the ace lighting and doodad re-furbisher at the Beaconsfield location; she has been volunteering at the thrift shops for nine years. Miss Edith came to Canada in 1979 from France. Is this why her supposed claim to fame is singing like Piaf? Hmmm. Can anyone confirm this?
“I volunteer one full day at this store and another full day in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue,” she said as she prepared a woman’s ensemble to hang on the racks for sale.
Joining in the jovial informal interview were thrift shop team-mates Judy, Uget, Shirine and Ruby.
“It’s the friendships that the volunteers develop that make us want to work here,” they agreed.
“We have fun, and have learned to expect all sorts of unusual things on our sorting tables. We have had French letters, wedding dresses, fancy dress costumes and even dentures,” said Miss Edith.
While Ruby, a veteran of many volunteer years for the Thrift Shops, manned the cash register, Uget talked about her role for the Thrift Shops.
“I am the telephone lady,” she said, “so I co-ordinate the pickup of large articles like furniture, which is mostly destined to go to the Beaurepaire store.”
As Team Thunder moved into the business part of the store to capture a suitable photograph, Judy, Edith and Shirine gravitated to the ladies’ lingerie section. They all laughed as they pondered whether or not the photographer wanted them to model the merchandise. In another section of the shop, Miss Uget fingered the fur wraps in anticipation of a more classic photo-shoot.
“It’s not too busy today,” said Edith, “but it’s absolute bedlam when we have our quarterly half-price sales.”
Miss Judy, though, said that even on non-sale days, the St-Charles store is famous for its reasonable prices.
“We have, for example,” she said, “an excellent selection of jeans that sell for only two dollars a pair.”
Also gracing the shelves of the St-Charles store is a superior collection of china, porcelain and general household articles.
“If an item is deemed to be more valuable than ordinary, we get a second opinion,” said Miss Judy, as she examined a brass instrument. No one on hand had a clue what it was.
This team of lovely, experienced, long-time volunteers is definite proof that, “Hey it’s a good place to volunteer!”
Team Thunder in Beaconsfield
This time around Team Thunder stopped in at the Thrift Shops for Nova store in Beaconsfield to chat with Paul, a retired civil servant and Beaconsfield resident, who is also the Thrift Shop’s master fine-tuner of furniture.
To meet up with Paul, we ventured into the bowels of the store to his amazing work space. The workshop, which Paul shares with Sam (the Thrift Shops’ re-furbisher of lamps and lighting accessories) is not what you would call a state of the art atelier, but rather a shop which leaves one thinking that these guys know what they are doing. On this particular day Paul was busy clamping a chair which he had just re-glued. Beside him, awaiting his attention, was an intricate piece that looked like the support for a very nice table.
“Each piece of furniture we take in is different. Some pieces just need a wipe and a tickle while others need a little work,” said Paul. “What I can’t get down the stairs, I disassemble in the store. Then I drag the faulty part down to work on it,” continued Paul.
Paul, who sometimes volunteers at the store for as many as four days a week, says he is always available to help.
“On occasion I pick up stuff at the other Thrift Shops or help Sam if the light shop is overloaded,” he said.
In addition to his duties with the furniture, Paul is also a master scrounger. Looking at the plastic drawers filled with the results of his efforts, one can see bits and pieces from very old furniture–none of it available in any store today.
“If something comes in that is too far gone, I take off all the good screws and hardware,” he said. “I even have a network of friends that bring me odd-ball hardware.”
Team Thunder in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue
Team Thunder recently travelled to downtown Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue to meet up with Thrift Shop volunteers, Marion and Jean.
We caught up with the ladies in the staff lunch room just as they were tucking into what looked like a very good dish from the kitchens of Marie Callender.
The two dedicated volunteers, who have a combined service of over twenty years of giving their time to The Thrift Shops for Nova West Island, are acknowledged by many as absolute champions when it comes to evaluating the avalanche of china, silverware and assorted do-dads that find their way to their station in the sorting area of the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue store.
Though from different backgrounds, they learned early on in their friendship that they actually shared a life experience.
“We both had the occasion to use the services of Nova’s nurses when our spouses were near the end of their lives,” said Mrs. Jean.
Mrs. Jean, who ventured to the Thrift Shops from the vaults of RBC, initially worked the cash registers in the store but then finally teamed up with Maid Marion in the sorting room. Although Jean spent a large part of her early years in Kenya, and came to Canada only in 1968, she now resides in Pointe Claire. She generously contributes as many as four days a week in the Thrift Shop, and told us that every day is full of surprises.
“Some days, for sure, it’s just a bunch of miscellaneous merchandise, but every once in a while we hit a gold mine,” she says.
Mrs. Marion was born and bred in Outremont but now, she too resides in Pointe Claire. A graduate of McDonald College, she also works three, and sometimes four days a week at the Thrift Shop.
“Yes, it is fun and very rewarding to work for the Thrift Shops for Nova,” she added.
“I raised three daughters and am now endowed with eleven grand and great grandchildren,” she cheerfully offered.
Mrs. Marion said that she sometimes comes across such things as Rodin pieces on their table.
“However,” she said, “the most unusual piece I’ve ever come across was an empty funeral parlour urn; I think someone eventually bought it for their pet’s ashes.
As other staff wandered into the large lunch room for their noontime meal, all were anxious to sing the praises of team Marion and Jean.
“I know for a fact that their combined expertise has brought in many extra dollars to our Thrift Shop,” said an enthusiastic fellow staff member.
Team Marion and Jean: just two of the amazing volunteers that make our Thrift Shops for Nova West Island so successful.
Nova West Island
Dear Thrift Shops for NOVA volunteers,
Please allow me to thank you for everything you do! We do not take you for granted and really appreciate your support on so many levels. The time, dedication and energy you put into your volunteer role benefits so many people! Your participation in our different fundraising events is also worthy of mention; whether you attend the activity, promote it, sell tickets for it…your contribution does not go unnoticed.
We appreciate all your hard work; your annual donation of half a million dollars to NOVA West Island helps us to take care of more than 1,350 people per year through our different programs, not to mention the impact these services have on the caregivers, the public health care system and the community at large. Community, foundation, corporate, municipal and individual contributions help us help vulnerable people in 16 different municipalities of the West Island.
As you know, our primary mandate is to provide specialized home care and support to cancer and ALS patients and their families during the course of the illness, and particularly in the palliative stage. Our team of experienced nurses, home support workers, and dedicated volunteers provide comprehensive and compassionate care, at no or minimal cost to the families. For the fiscal year 2014-2015 our nurses made over 2,813 home visits, opened 276 new files (12% increase) and on average managed a caseload of 148 clients (14% increase). These free visits help clients and families deal with the effects of treatments and disease progression while providing psychosocial support. With over 7,277 hours of service (visits, referrals and phone calls), patients were able to remain in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible. As a matter of fact, we accompanied 34 clients and families in peaceful and dignified home deaths (28% increase). We also offer an ALS caregivers support group. In addition, our Home Health Aides provide an invaluable service and last year alone, cared for 70 clients and made 2,840 home visits.
Our bereavement services and support groups to youth & adults are also free. The 13th Camp Carousel, a weekend bereavement camp for 17 children took place in September. Last year, the grief counselor followed 77 children, and 26 adults also received services. Our support group for Motherless Daughters has completed seven sessions. The bereavement sessions for adults continue to take place three times per year.
Our four Adult Day Centres meet the needs of frail, elderly, disabled or cognitively impaired adults and seniors who come together in a stimulating and socializing “club-like” environment. Meanwhile their caregivers enjoy some well-deserved respite time. We also offer an Alzheimer Caregivers Support Group in conjunction with the Alzheimer Society of Montreal.
Our 7 weekly foot care clinics in different community settings help those with decreased vision, diabetes, arthritis, circulation problems and other conditions affecting foot health.
Thank you on behalf of the NOVA West Island clients, families, staff, volunteers and Board of Directors! Merci pour votre dévouement et votre compassion! Nous apprécions notre partenariat!
Marie-France Juneau, Executive Director