Okmulgee County Homeless Shelter receives grant to expand thrift store, train more people

OKMULGEE, Okla. — The Okmulgee County Homeless Shelter (OCHS) Thrift Store overflows with things like clothes, furniture and electronics.

Everything sold helps fund The OCHS and their mission.

OCHS helped shelter more than 300 people last year, most of whom were Okmulgee residents.

Rachel Goodson came to the shelter when she was homeless and struggling with addiction.

Goodson said, “It’s kind of emotional to me to talk about, because, you know, like, if it hadn’t been for the shelter, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I was going through family drug court. I was homeless, and I had two kids with me.” Goodson said working at the thrift store helped her get her life together.

Now she’s a case manager at the shelter, helping people out the same situations she once found herself in. Goodson said, “I think it helps being able to share things in common. And they’re like, oh wow, you know, if she did this, I can do this too.”

The shelter’s Executive Director Brenda Brewer says the thrift store needs more space to offset the rising cost of the shelter’s utilities.

Brewer said, “It’ll increase our sales by 25 to 40 percent, annually due to being able to get more product out.”

Brewer said a thrift store expansion will add more than 330 square feet of sales floor to the tiny thrift store and should cost around $100,000.

So far, the shelter has received a $38,000 grant from the Gelvin Foundation.

They’ve also been approved for a challenge grant from the Tulsa-based Mabee Foundation.

But the Mabee Foundation Challenge Grant must be matched by the shelter through donations, proceeds from thrift sales or other grants.

Brewer said, “We’re needing to match $30,000 to get in order to receive the 30, and we will have the full funding for the addition to the thrift store.”

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