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New thrift store focuses on work ethic, training

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI -  Michael Gonzales, right, finishes up a transaction with Chris Pfeiffer, who purchased a vintage massage kit.There is a new thrift store in town, and Shane Tebeck, the manager, would love to have more customers come and take advantage of the special prices.

The store, called Teen Challenge Pacific Northwest Thrift Store, is at 13843 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd., in Courtney Plaza. The name of the store comes from the founding organization, Teen Challenge, which has been offering faith-based recovery services since it was founded in 1958 in New York City.

The program started off working with teen gang members, but then expanded into recovery services for anyone with “life-controlling issues,” like drug and alcohol addiction, anger management and other social issues, Tebeck said.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI -  Ricky Younger, left, and store manager Shane Tebeck look over a vintage piece of furniture with an RCA Victor turntable and radio.Because the name Teen Challenge was so well known, the name stayed the same, although the client base changed, he added, noting that the specific religious affiliation is Assemblies of God.

The thrift store used to be on Sandy Boulevard in Portland, but there was minimal parking and other issues, so the store moved to Milwaukie last November, because of better visibility, large square footage and a big parking lot, Tebeck said.

The shop is also closer to the Portland Metro Men’s Center rehabilitation facility, on Warner Parrott Road in Oregon City. It is there that the 30 to 40 students, aged 18 and up, take classes.

Students can check themselves into the center or can be court-appointed, Tebeck said. There is an entry fee to the program, which can be waived if there are financial problems.

“Since it is faith-based rehabilitation, we work on the whole person to strengthen them through the Bible and discipline,” he said. Course work includes basic Bible classes, hygiene, spiritual well being, work ethic and other kinds of business skills training.

All the money that the store brings in goes straight back into the program, Tebeck noted.

After-care programs

The rehabilitation program lasts for one year, and then students have three options. The first is the basic plan, where they can go out into the community and live and work and check in frequently; after four months they then officially graduate from the program.

The second option is Phase Five, a six-month program, where students live in the alcohol- and drug-free dorms, and have more structure to their lives. And the final option is the staff-in-training program, where students can spend one year working in the store in Milwaukie or the store in Salem; these students also take Internet business-training classes.

“We are working now on a training piece where the students are certified, so they can show a potential employer specific criteria; they can put on an application or resume that they have vocational training,” Tebeck said.

Ricky Younger has been in the program for seven months and works at the Milwaukie store. What he likes best about his job is “interaction with customers,” he said, adding that furniture, knickknacks and clothing are popular items in the store.

Michael Gonzales has also been in the program for seven months, and said, “I have a purpose in life here; I want to help the program and give back to the community.”

He also likes interacting with people, and said he even “loves grouchy customers, because all they need is more attention.”

‘Treasures’

The thrift store specializes in furniture and also carries clothing, linens, household items, appliances, electronics and more.

People can donate to the store from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and “we also do pick ups and delivery for free; people can give us donations for gas, that would be OK,” Tebeck said.

Monday is senior day, when everything is 25 percent off for seniors, and on Wednesdays, clothing, shoes and linens are 50 percent off. There are special sales and colored tag sales every day.

“Sometimes we run across treasures,” Tebeck said, noting that one day the store received a Drexler dresser “that was solid mahogany, with beautiful craftsmanship and ornate details; it was about 100 years old.”

Last week Chris Pfeiffer, an Ardenwald resident, found a portable massage kit from the 1950s that reminded him of when his grandfather owned the building that housed the Shriners Hospital, when it was on Sandy Boulevard and 82nd Avenue. Tebeck plugged the massager in and it started right up, so Pfeiffer purchased it, of course.

Tebeck would like to see an increase in business, but emphasized that the goal of the program is to focus on the training aspect.

“We are not here just to raise funds. We are here to train the guys, give them business skills, integrity and a work ethic. They are with people eight hours a day, so they have to pay attention to detail, and stick to a routine and schedule,” he said.

Tebeck added, “We want to create a program so that when a guy exits, he has every single skill he needs to be successful. We want them to go out there and not fall on their face; they have a work ethic, they work well with others, they can prioritize tasks and they have every possible basic work skill.”



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