The Mountain View Hospital Thrift Store in downtown Madras will be operating in partnership with the Heart of Oregon Corps, beginning Sept. 1.
>Heart of Oregon Corps
"It's a great solution to an ongoing problem," stated Jeanine Gentry, chief executive officer of Mountain View Hospital. "Our volunteers have worked so hard, but we have struggled to get enough volunteers to keep the store open. Now, the Heart of Oregon will bring in a whole group of young people to run the store. It will still benefit the hospital while benefiting youth who will be better prepared for employment because of this program," she added.
For decades, the thrift store was run by the hospital auxiliary, but many of those volunteers are now older and staffing was a problem.
Heart of Oregon Corps, founded in 2000, provides employment-based programs that help address the needs of disconnected young adults in Central Oregon by providing them with opportunities to acquire job skills.
The group has been working with Madras High School for eight years to help place students in vocational training situations.
Heart of Oregon will utilize the store as a new training site to teach young people how to work in a retail environment.
"They really need and want the current volunteers to continue working there. It will not only benefiting the hospital, but will be helping young people get trained. All of our volunteers right now are seniors, and they're great mentors. It's a good connection between generations," Gentry said.
A portion of the proceeds from the store will still go to support the hospital foundation and the remaining funds will support the ongoing training and programs of Heart of Oregon Corps.
Gentry said that hospital volunteers will have the option to remain working at the thrift store or may choose one of the many other volunteer jobs at the hospital if they desire.
Gentry said the store's name will probably be changed.
"Our volunteers are instrumental to our mission of serving the community. It's important to us that we continue their legacy with this partnership for the thrift store. We always have ways for people to support the hospital and hope all of our current volunteers will stay engaged," Gentry said.
"Heart of Oregon will make sure it is staffed. They're going to invest money in the building which we haven't been able to do for things like making the building ADA compliant," she said.
Details are still being worked out, but the store may be leased to Heart of Oregon at first, with plans to sell it to them later.
The store will close on Aug. 15, so that upgrades can be made to the facility for the new program. There will be a storewide sale from now until the closure, and Heart of Oregon Corps is planning to host a grand reopening of the thrift store in September.