Wednesday, May 20, 2009
MyLife section of Commercial Appeal
August 15, 2008
A kitchen attendant turned supervisor has spent more than half of her life helping serve others at The Salvation Army.
Maggie Robinson's long journey with The Salvation Army began in 1972 when she met Brigadier Gertrude Purdue, who with her husband served as Memphis Area Commander from 1962-1973. Robinson had been recommended for a position in the kitchen. When Brig. Purdue asked Robinson if she could cook for a crowd, the response was "I cook for my four boys -- and that's a lot of cooking." Thus began her career with The Salvation Army, first as a cook, then as a dietitian. Today she is food service manager and has a staff of six.
When she became a Salvation Army employee, Robinson, the sole supporter of her four young sons, lived in Lamar Terrace. She and her sons joined The Salvation Army Corps (church) and became actively involved in worship and family-centered activities. In fact, The Salvation Army's focus on serving others and his own personal experiences with the organization led one of her sons to become a Salvation Army officer. That son, Major Neal Richardson, has been a Salvation Army officer for more than 20 years and has risen through the ranks to become the Divisional Commander of the Midland Division, which is headquartered in St. Louis.
Robinson, who turned 71 on Aug. 2, has met many interesting people through her time with The Salvation Army. Although it is sometimes difficult when a family she has served leaves the shelter, she says she prays for them and tries not to get too attached. "I always know it is a good thing when they leave the program because it means they are doing better," Robinson said.
Robinson loves working for The Salvation Army because it gives her a chance to serve others and to prepare food for them. "I cook for our clients like they are my own family," she said.
The Salvation Army not only meets the physical needs of the people it serves but it meets their spiritual needs as well. Robinson has seen all different kinds of people walk through the doors of The Salvation Army and is grateful that the organization always accepts them with open arms. It is one of the things she loves most about working for the nonprofit organization.
Robinson said, "I love people, and this is where God wants me to be."
For more information about the Salvation Army, visit their Web site at salvationarmymemphis.org.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
These qualities and others filled my journal as I wrote down specifically what I desired in a mate at the age of 16. Some were nonnegotiable, while others were a bit more picky. Still, my mentor at the time said not to leave anything out; so I didn’t.
When I met Ryan Wingo, the circumstances were perfect. As we sat next to each other on a bus driving through the mountains in Ecuador preparing to give new shoes to children who had never worn any before, I could not help but think I had found my soulmate.
It sealed the deal when we got home, and he immediately ended a long relationship, which seemed to be headed toward marriage. He was 24 and I was a senior in high school. I was young and in love with my Prince Charming.
Three years of college later, I was the one wearing the ring. As I began to prepare for the day every little girl dreams of, it happened — marriage counseling. All of a sudden my life went from people telling me not to rush things and to wait patiently on the right timing, to getting overloaded with information about love and marriage, from how to cook a perfect meal in under 30 minutes, to how to show respect to my husband even when I do not think he deserves it. With the shocking statistics of couples getting divorced each year, I was determined it would not be us.
Early on we discussed techniques for communication, how to live off 80 percent of our income and how to make sure the fire never burns out in our marriage.
One book we were encouraged to read was about knowing the main way both you and your spouse give and receive love. Apparently if we did not know these secrets about each other before the wedding day, we would never be happy together.
One day, my mom asked me which of the five “love languages” described in the book I most identified with; I laughingly said, “all of them.” “I want to be told I am beautiful and loved, be planned for, receive gifts, be held and touched and be loved through acts of service,” I said. I realized I was probably expecting a lot; some might have called me high maintenance. But, that is what I thought everyone deserved.
As I began to absorb this information overload, which was very helpful, I decided I knew enough about relationships for the time being and began to move on to other important things — like what color green was the perfect match for our living room walls, and where in the world I was going to put the fifteen crystal bowls we’d received as wedding presents.
As the daughter of a pastor at a large church, I had wedding shower overload. My parent’s dining room was overflowing with gifts and what started out as me running to the front door to rip open the boxes containing items from our registry quickly faded to me ignoring them for a few days until I figured out how I would ever manage to finish all of those thank you notes.
Ryan’s side of the guest list included just over 100 people. Mine, on the other hand, included our entire church as well as my family and friends. Saying I was planning a large wedding was an understatement. I tried to remember through the engagement months to enjoy that time in our relationship and not to get caught up in the details of the wedding because marriage is about much more than one day.
Our wedding day was beautiful and exactly how I had always dreamed it would be. I wore my mother’s veil and walked arm-in-arm with my father down the long aisle to Ryan, who was smiling the whole time. Any fear or insecurities I had, wiped away as I made my way down to him standing at the front of the church to say “I do.” All of our friends and family were present, and the day turned out to be beautiful.
A cutting of the cake, run through rose petals, ride in a limo, trip to Mexico and bad case of food poisoning later, we came back to our first home as a couple — a rental from some friends of ours. This is when marriage took on a whole new meaning.
The first few weeks I was living in a fantasy world. Each day I woke up early, went to work, came home, washed and folded laundry while also neatly putting both his and mine away, started cooking dinner, later cleaned up the kitchen, went for a run and sat down to watch Sports Center with my husband.
It didn’t take me long to realize I was exhausted, he could put up his own laundry, groceries were expensive, recipes with 35 ingredients were not practical for us, I shouldn’t be the only one cleaning the kitchen and I hated Sports Center.
If it is not clear by now, I am a "Type-A" personality and am constantly stressed over small things while pushing to keep myself busy, tackling the things that need to be done. My parents tell a story about me when I was in kindergarden that proves this point. One day before school, I had too many things I was trying to shove in my backpack. Needless to say, they were not all fitting how I wanted them to. I walked over to my parents and, almost in tears, told them I was “stressed” because “i could not fit my books in my book-bag.”
My husband, on the other hand, is fun and laid-back and always encouraging me to sit down for a while and to stop overcommitting myself. Everyone who meets him loves him from the start, and he often brings me back to reality. The differences in our personality work wonderfully together at times but clash at others.
Every time I felt myself getting aggravated about something Ryan either did or did not do, the stereotypes of wives being nags or inconsiderate of a hard-working husband began to flood my head. As much as I didn’t want to fit that mold, I also did not want to be stuck working, going to school and doing all of the housework by myself. Besides, I reasoned that it is actually men’s fault women are called nags, because if they would be more thoughtful and considerate, we would never have to ask them to do things in the first place.
The memories from marriage counseling about love and respect, patience and self-sacrifice and putting my mate’s needs above my own sometimes made an appearance in my mind; but the nail biting, wet towels on the floor and endless amounts of sports on the television quickly overshadowed them.
I began to resent my husband and make mental lists of every move he made that I felt was inconsiderate, selfish or annoying. The idea of living with a “boy” for the rest of my life began to be daunting. I loved him — definitely, and all days were not as bad as others; but still, my instinctual female ability to remember every wrong done only to whip them out in attack when my husband least expected it, and then break down in uncontrollable tears was in overdrive. These situations brought back the same old feelings of not being able to “get my books in my book-bag,” only quite intensified.
One night, I had a paper to write and a test the next day in school. I had fixed Ryan’s favorite meal for dinner and was too busy to clean up afterward. I decided I would do what I had not let myself do before — forget about the messy kitchen and the laundry that needed to be folded and work on my homework.
An amazing thing happened that night. As I sat in the office with the door closed trying to drown out the sound of the television, my sweet husband walked in to tell me he had cleaned the kitchen, folded the clothes and was putting them away while I worked. Then he said the thing that still rings so loudly in my ears: “I can’t believe you do this by yourself so often. This is hard work!”
There it was. Victory. I felt joy and satisfaction rise up in my heart. I never had to say a word. I could not be accused of being a nag. But, the thing that moved me the most was the amount of love I felt from my husband when he did what needed to be done around the house just because he wanted to help me.
Any anger I had allowed to build up toward him melted away and I felt so lucky to have a husband like him. Besides, I had heard the horror stories of men who thought women were meant to do the house work alone and let the husband rest after a hard day of providing for the family. My husband did not have that attitude at all; he realized how much I had on my plate and that I could not do everything alone.
After a short moment of feeling I had won a major battle, I realized I had been viewing this marriage thing all wrong. I was constantly looking out for whether or not Ryan was considering my best interest. Even though I had convinced myself I was actually serving him by doing the housework myself, I was really trying to silently prove a point that I did more around the house than he did, and he should thank me. That was the first of many lessons in how truly selfish I actually am.
Now, 11 months into marriage, I have realized some important things. For instance, though my music-loving husband never lets me listen to more than five seconds of a song while driving in the car, he is the only one I want to go on road trips with. And, though he bites his nails, he can play the heck out of a guitar. And, even though he changes clothes entirely too many times during the day, he is the only man whose underwear I will wash and fold.
In short, I have realized that though we are different, he is the only person who can make me a better me. That is why I married him. I have learned marriage is more than butterflies in your stomach; it is more than total physical attraction at all times of the day; it is more than a white house with a picket fence. Marriage is a commitment, and I am glad I am married to my best friend.
I have come to appreciate the differences between us, because they make our marriage work. Now we are facing newer challenges, like how to convince our new dog that our neighbor's yard is not the best place to use the bathroom. I have become much more laid-back and am, hopefully, a much more enjoyable, easygoing person to live with.
I realize one year into marriage is still a long way from learning all there is to know about how to make a marriage work, but I think we are off to a good start. Now, sitting in our living room, which is painted the perfect shade of olive green, and staring into our kitchen at the crystal bowls lining the top of our cabinets, I can’t help but think our marriage is only getting sweeter and our time-limit for finishing our thank you notes is only drawing nearer.
Well, I better get to writing.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
For women, this simple word has many meanings. It could be the reflection in the mirror, the picture in the magazine, the ideal in the mind or the obsession of one’s life. For many women, it is a haunting, relentless nag.
The power of capturing images is evident upon entering the home of Savannah Kenney. The 22-year-old self-employed photographer, who’s work is growing in popularity in her city, sits scrolling through photos on her laptop and smiles as she explains the concept behind each one.
A shocking picture enters the screen appearing to portray the body of a young girl — stomach sunken in, bones and joints protruding and no curves to speak of. The sad reality is, the photo is not of a girl, but rather a woman struggling with anorexia. She desires to be in control of her life while all the while being entangled by the lies of the image in the mirror. The photo is of Kenney about two years prior.
As a child, Kenney was naturally small. She grew up a tomboy and never appreciated the curves of a woman’s body. She did not think they were natural and could not imagine her body changing from the way it had always been.
Kenney comes from a large family with three sisters and one brother. Growing up, she was the smallest among her naturally thin siblings and always wanted to stay that way. She dates the beginning of her battle with her body to early high school as she hit puberty later than most of her friends.
“I was proud to have a small chest and to be less curvy,” she says. “I was known as the smallest kid in class and was always athletic, wearing no larger than a size zero.”
The problem with her weight became an issue of control for her. With parents whom she describes as overprotective and demanding, she wanted to know there was something in her life she could control and decide for herself.
“I would push myself to see how long I could go without eating. I trained my body not to be hungry and exercised a lot.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these are two of the main signs revealing a struggle with anorexia.
She also struggled with maintaining the image she made of herself to others. Since she was known as the “skinny girl,” she wanted it to stay that way. Comments from her father about her sisters being too big to fit into her clothes made Kenney more desirous to maintain a small frame.
As a home schooler throughout most of her high school years, Kenney often took classes at a local college with other students. On these days she brought a much smaller lunch than everyone else. After a friend made mention of her food portions one day, she felt she had to keep it up.
“I remember seeing my size and shape at that point in pictures and liking it.
“If I become known for something, I go after it way too much. I was very concerned with what other people thought of me and what their ideal picture of me was.”
Though she struggled with anorexia through high school, Kenney reached her lowest point during her first year of college when at five feet six inches tall, she weighed just over 90 pounds.
At this point, she began having heart problems, which is a common side effect of an eating disorder. After realizing her situation was more serious than she had previously thought, Kenney admitted openly for the first time she had a problem during an emotional call to her boyfriend — now husband.
“At that time I was shopping in the kid’s section for clothing,” Kenney recalls while sifting through old photos of herself. “At first I didn’t think of it as a disorder, but simply a bad priority of staying small.”
After opening up about her issues with body image and anorexia, she sought counseling from other women. She learned her issues with weight revolved around her desire for control rather than mere appetite.
Though the struggle with weight did not leave her completely, Kenney slowly began to gain more understanding of the trap she had created for herself and desired to escape its bondage.
During college, she took several semesters of photography and fell in love with it. She says her goal in photography is to “capture the essence of humanity” in an honest and creative way. What started out as a passionate hobby, soon became an outlet for the true feelings and emotions she had kept inside for years.
During one of her first photography classes, Kenney’s professor assigned a personal project to complete the semester and told the class to portray an image of something that meant a great deal to them. For her, what followed was a series of three images incorporating a smashed mirror with her face staring blankly into the broken glass. The theme of the images — distortion.
After explaining the photos and her struggle with an eating disorder for the first time in public during the class critique, Kenney’s instructor praised her for her work and acknowledged her honesty and openness.
“My professor pulled me aside and told me how powerful the images were and how much they could speak to other people.”
This was the beginning of what led to the concept for her final senior project, which she titled, “Root Metaphors of the Female Mythical Norm.” Through this process, she was able to talk with many other women struggling with the same difficulties associated with body image, allowing her to cope with her own problems.
“I wanted to do a project to help other women with similar struggles. The goal was to show the progression of how eating disorders start and the major influences associated with them.”
The photo series begins with a girl standing in front of a wall covered in photos from magazines depicting what the media says is “healthy” and “normal.”
One of the most shocking photos in the series is of Kenney herself standing in her undergarments revealing a body like that of a Holocaust victim.
As the images progress, she explains how women are slaves to the mirror and chained to the scale. In one photo, a thin college student tightens a measuring tape around her tiny waste. Others reveal ways women try to disguise themselves by painting on a mask of perfection. Some show women as slaves to food, as well as the toilet.
As she presented her work to the class, she had the most discussion stemming from her images. And with a class full of women, many opened up about their own struggles of this nature.
Throughout the process of conceptualizing and capturing the images in the series, she was forced to face her own issues and to be real and honest with herself.
“The biggest thing I learned through that process was that I was not in control of my life at all, but rather, I was allowing my weight to control me.
“I couldn’t let it become a controlling issue in my life because I wanted to move on and help others.”
Kenney says the photos in the series of herself still haunt her. As a newlywed and the owner of an up-and-coming photography business, she has had many things to keep her busy and to provide distraction from her weight issues. Her struggle has not become totally obsolete, but she realizes she has to win the battle with the mirror and scale daily.
“I realize now I could have caused serious damage to my body; now I desire to be healthy more than I desire to weigh less.”
Marriage has also allowed her to become more appreciative of her feminine curves, and she has gained about 20 pounds since her college days. Her body is still small, but she has embraced the things that used to seem foreign to her when she looks in the mirror.
“I’m becoming more accepting of myself and I know now there is no ideal size,” she says. “You have to grow as a woman; marriage has helped me desire to be more feminine.
“I realize now that being tied to a certain weight and measurements slowly consumed me and began to eat me away. I still believe in the idea for my project and how I wanted to make visual images of what really goes on as a woman realizes she cannot ever be like the women in many of the ads she sees.”
She also attributes her ability to overcome her struggle with anorexia to her spiritual life as a Christian.
“I realized the times I struggled most with anorexia were the times I was running from God and dissatisfied with my life.”
Though things are not perfect now, Kenney says she feels more settled in her life and with her body. Currently, her biggest struggle is not fitting into her old size zero clothes.
“I’ve never had to unbutton my pants to sit down before and now sometimes I have to,” she says with a laugh.
She takes joy in the fact that even if she gains a little weight, her husband is satisfied with her no matter what size she is, and she finally has freedom from the bondage of the scale.
“I know my husband loves me for who I am and whether my body is a size zero or larger is not what is most important.”
Kenney sits staring at the image of herself once again and can’t help but smile knowing how far she has come.
Four years of college, off to graduate school, on to track down the dream career, date around here and there and finally settle down by the age of 27. This might describe the journey many "20-somethings" have embarked upon, but for some, life-long commitment comes much sooner.
The unconventional loft apartment, home to a newly married couple and their teacup poodle, Trudy, is lined with shag carpet and surrounded by concrete walls painted a neutral shade of brownish gray. Up the spiral staircase the master bedroom sits overlooking East Lafayette Street. Through the bathroom is a large closet perfectly organized with matching wooden hangers.
The apartment neatly reflects its owners, John and Lisa Arnold, Union University graduate and current senior accounting major respectively. John, dressed in gray slacks and a crisp button down shirt, throws a toy to Trudy enticing her to run and get it. Lisa is dressed for dinner in a retro floral skirt and cardigan with pointy toe shoes.
"We are like an old couple," Lisa says smiling at her new hubby. "I knew pretty early on Lisa was a part of my life and it would be weird not to have her," John says in a matter-of-fact tone.
During one of their usual Friday night dates at Picasso, an Italian bistro in Jackson, John surprised Lisa by asking her to spend the rest of her life with him. He presented her with two symbols of his love that night: a beautiful oval-shaped canary yellow diamond ring with antique detailing, and a light yellow KitchenAid mixer--a long-time desire of Lisa’s.
The pair was married in January 2009, one semester before Lisa’s graduation. They decided to marry then mainly because they wanted to have time to enjoy each other before getting jobs and moving to a new city.
"Marriage as a student is fine for us because it is short term," Lisa said, adding, "we would not want to be married in college for several years, though, because we would miss out on a lot of things."
On the opposite side of Jackson sits an old three-bedroom house in which lives another couple, their cat, Jodi, and their dog, Sage.
Stir fry is cooking on top of the stove and paw marks make their way across the tile floor as the cat sweeps across her owners’ ankles into the dining room. The walls are bright purple and the kitchen table is covered with papers and books.
Travis and Courtney Tidwell have been married for almost two years and have lived in thier house for most of that time. Courtney, senior psychology major at Union, stands barefoot cutting vegetables wearing a yellow floor-length dress with her tousled hair pulled into a ponytail revealing the word “faith” tattooed across her shoulder. Travis, wearing a blue T-shirt and jeans, is in charge of stirring the mixture to be placed over rice later on.
Courtney describes the day of the couple’s engagement as Valentine’s Day 2006 when Travis, who lived an hour and a half away at the time, surprised her in her dorm with roses, a poem and a tasteful princess cut engagement ring. The two were married during the summer after Courtney’s sophomore year of college.
"Travis and I met when we were very young and once I went to college, we could not handle the distance from each other," Courtney says. "We knew we were going to get married eventually; why wait?"
Travis and Courtney have hectic schedules and struggle to find time throughout the day to spend with each other. Travis works during the day while Courtney is at school, and she works at night three days a week. They try to spend time with each other after Courtney gets home from work, and on the evenings she does not work they make dinner together. Courtney says she has learned a lot about time management.
“I have to be very diligent with delegating my time,” she says, adding, “my study habits have improved because I have had to be so disciplined.”
For John and Lisa, quality time is key.
“I try to stay at school in between my classes and work on homework so when I am home I can separate school life and home life and spend time with John,” Lisa says while sitting on the red love seat holding John's hand.
“He makes dinner because he is home before me,” Lisa says. “We eat together at the kitchen table because it makes us talk to each other.”
At night the couple enjoys watching TV, going on walks or grabbing a coffee at one of their favorite downtown spots, the Green Frog. By 10:30 p.m., they are off to bed.
When it comes to life as a married college student, Lisa says there are some differences, though she says she is just as involved on campus now as she was before marriage. John whispers “she is more involved.” She has several leadership roles at Union and maintains relationships with her college friends.
Courtney on the other hand, says life as a married college student has kept her from being as involved as she was during her first two years. Although, she has found time to play intramural basketball and was involved in leading a campus Bible study for women last year.
The thing John and Lisa like the most about being married is not having to leave each other at the end of the day.
“I feel more settled and at home (with John) than I did before (marriage),” Lisa says sweetly glancing toward John as if seeking approval of her statement.
Though Lisa is still involved at Union, the pair advises students planning to get married before graduation to be ready to accept the fact they will not be able to do certain things anymore that they might have done before marriage.
“You have to be ready to face the reality that you might never go backpacking across Europe with your best girlfriends after you get married,” she says with a chuckle.
Courtney agrees there are things married college students cannot do like they could before.
“If there is a battle between wanting to live the college life and wanting to be married, there will be friction; marriage has to be your priority,” Courtney says.
Courtney plans to attend graduate school after college to pursue a career in psychology. Travis already works a full-time job in Jackson.
Marriage as a college student is described by Courtney as “crazy, hectic and wonderful.”
Her advice to engaged couples: “Do more listening than talking.”
News section of Cardinal and Cream
April 16, 2009 issue, p. 1
House foreclosures. Mass layoffs. Bad loans. Unemployed households. These words have become familiar to U.S. citizens as the country faces economic crisis.
What used to sound like a distant problem only affecting Wall Street is spreading to the suburbs. The unemployment rate in the state of Tennessee alone has risen from 7.6 percent to 9.1 percent since December.
Times like these have caused some local churches to take action in serving their members and the communities in which they are located.
Dr. Greg Thornbury, dean of the School of Christian Studies at Union University, says the Bible is quite clear about how the church should respond in these types of situations.
“The book of Acts very clearly shows that in financially difficult times, the early Christians shared their resources with one another,” Thornbury said. “No one was in need.
“We need to go back to that spirit of a practical theology of helping. This model (of the early church) is a testimony to the truth of the gospel and concrete reality that the followers of Jesus really do love one another.”
Two churches in west Tennessee are doing their part to make this idea a reality.
Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis and Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson are doing their best to minister to people within their communities as well as within their own church bodies.
Though the needs for help have increased in recent months, Steve Marcum, minister of missions at Bellevue, said the church was already doing outreach to the community and handling benevolence needs weekly.
“We minister to the poor and needy anyway,” Marcum said. “But, during an economic crisis, the needs multiply.”
Bellevue’s first priority when meeting a person or family in a difficult situation is to make sure basic needs are met, such as food, clothing and shelter.
“The larger number of people seeking help has caused us to be more creative and to stretch our resources,” Marcum said, adding, “it has also caused us to network with other agencies and churches in order to be more effective.”
Marcum says Bellevue is currently seeing more of its own members with difficult financial situations, such as unemployment.
“We are offering job training classes on Fridays that help with resume writing and making contacts for jobs,” Marcum said. “We want to help our family. It is a better time now than ever to do ministry, and it has caused us to refocus and continue to provide for people both physically and spiritually.”
Englewood is also seeing more members facing financial trouble. Paul Priddy, church executive, said the southeastern part of the country did not feel the immediate effects of the recession but is now seeing more and more job loss.
As a banker for 25 years before joining the staff at Englewood, Priddy has found himself meeting with families weekly to help them sort out their financial problems.
“I am currently working with about a dozen families on issues ranging from job loss to preparation for the economy getting worse,” Priddy said of his role during this time at Englewood.
The church provided an e-mail address for members to send financial questions for Priddy to look over and help them on a more personal level.
“As needs arise in our congregation, we look to see how we can assist (the family), whether it is through helping them sell a car they can no longer afford or helping with mortgage payments,” Priddy said.
Englewood also offers Wednesday night classes teaching “Financial Peace” by Dave Ramsey, a popular Christian financial guru. The class series is offered twice a year and is always full.
The churches are not only involved in helping with financial advice and provisions for members, but they are also reaching out to their communities.
Dr. Steve Gaines, pastor at Bellevue, recently received the "Open Door" award, on behalf of the church, from the April 4th Foundation in Memphis. The foundation, which hosts a dinner and awards ceremony each year in honor of Martin Luther King and his vision for unity and peace, thanked Gaines and the church for their outstanding community service and investment in the city of Memphis.
On acceptance of the award, Gaines acknowledged Bellevue's passion to see God move in the city and said he believes greater things are yet to come for Memphis. One initiative recognized at the ceremony is the "Bellevue Loves Memphis" campaign.
Four times a year, large groups from the church spread throughout the city to help with projects including landscaping, home repair, cleaning and restoring schools and churches, ministry to widows and other various projects.
A recent development through the ministry to Memphis is the Mobile Dental Clinic, which offers free dentistry to people who cannot afford it. The clinic travels to depressed parts of Memphis and meets the physical needs of many people in the city while simultaneously being used as a tool to share the gospel.
Bellevue has also partnered with a Hispanic church, as well as an African American church, in offering several free classes in areas such as English as a second language, computer training, GED completion and job skills. Church members volunteer weekly to distribute food and help run a thrift store associated with Impact Ministries, an extension of the second of these two churches, in order to support those in need.
Englewood is also actively involved with ministry to the community. The church partners with local agencies including the Regional Inter-Faith Association and Area Relief Ministries, both of which help meet practical needs of community members. Through RIFA, for example, people can gain access to job training as well as possible job opportunities.
Another ministry the church helps with is called “Room in the Inn” and hosts homeless men every Tuesday night from November to March. Priddy said this provides an opportunity to meet the most basic needs of the men, as well as the chance to share about Jesus.
Priddy said it is the church’s responsibility during times like this to be available to talk, comfort and provide community.
“Our mission at Englewood is to love God, love people and serve the world,” Priddy said. “People are looking for something that is solid.”
“My mom never introduced us to anything else; (the thrift store) was usually our only option,” Meadows said.
After years of developing her keen eye for unique pieces and practicing conservative spending, Meadows has a few pieces of advice for the inexperienced bargain hunter. The first thing she does is set a budget before going shopping.
“Even if the item is less than the original price, it may not fit into your budget,” Meadows said.
The key to shopping at thrift stores is to start in one section, Meadows prefers the shirt section, and work through the rows of apparel not limiting the search to brand name items. Though it is easy to find recognizable brands at the thrift store, Meadows says not to limit yourself to them because you might miss something truly unique.
“See the potential in everything,” Meadows said. As a seamstress, she does not limit herself to buying only items in her size; if an article of clothing grabs her attention, she takes it up if it is too large.
Another way Meadows mixes up her look is by sifting through magazines and finding outfits she likes, then duplicating the ensemble with pieces she already owns.
One reason Meadows shops frugally for clothing is because she says she believes Christians will be held accountable for how they spend their money. She says she does not believe it is wrong to spend money on clothing, but it should not be the priority.
Meadows also uses shopping at thrift stores as a ministry to others in and around the stores. She often asks people in need whether or not she can buy them something.
“We should clothe the poor and feed the hungry first,” Meadows said.
Pat Patterson, a personal shopper for many years as well as a seminar speaker on shopping thriftily, shares Meadows’ passion for shopping at thrift stores.
Patterson began shopping on a budget for clothing when her husband lost his job and her son was in high school. She says they turned to yard sales and thrift shops for items they needed.
“After we started this family experience, we found (shopping at thrift stores) to be successful, fun and it also met our needs,” Patterson said adding, “my son even asked me to dress his dates!”
During this difficult time in Patterson’s family life, she developed strategies for shopping on a budget, which she still sticks to today. In addition to Meadow’s tips, she adds a few of her own.
The first thing she tells people to do is to take an inventory of what they have in their own closet and try to find new and creative ways to wear those things.
Patterson also tells shoppers to find out what colors work best on them before going shopping and then to buy those colored items. Instead of having a random assortment of mismatched things, this allows more pieces to mix together.
When it comes to college students preparing for careers, Patterson says it is important to build a basic wardrobe by sticking with classics.
“Classics will give you a good return on your dollar and you can add different accessories to update the basics,” Patterson said. “Remember to see the whole picture when shopping by thinking about items you already own and imagining the outfit in completion.”
Although shoppers may not have immediate luck at finding an item they need, Patterson says it is important to keep trying. She and Meadows encourage others to join in on the hunt and give bargain shopping a try.