While it has been a crazy past few weeks, a lot has been accomplished in this crash course of a community outreach LEEP project. Working at the student and volunteer run Clark Community Thrift Store (CCTS), I have noticed that it always seems like there is MORE work that can be done. As an action-oriented person it is hard to wait until a later time to fix a problem because I want to make improvements now! That being said, it has been a good learning experience to stick to my goals and to only attack areas such as the website when I have extra time. By focusing on concrete objectives such as the implementation of a strategic marketing campaign, I successfully launched the Clark Community Thrift Store’s first informational marketing program, distributing over 20 handouts for display on the counters, windows, community boards and doors of local businesses and organizations.
Though hectic at times, being a part of the Clark Community Thrift Store has been a truly fantastic experience, and a unique opportunity to learn by doing. One thing I particularly attribute to the success of this project is its structure. At the CCTS I have found a balance between an organized framework and creative freedom. This balance has helped me to cultivate competencies in marketing, advertising, promotion, event planning, communication, public relations, project management, print media, social media, and community outreach
To develop these skills, Jenny Isler (my LEEP boss and Clark’s sustainability coordinator) has continued to push and encourage me (as all good mentors do) in many ways. One such was to attend a sustainability roundtable event at Wellesley. Since the Community Thrift Store is committed to diverting waste from local landfills (20+ tons since 2010) by reselling gently used items, this event was perfectly aligned with our mission. At the event I was struck by the number of young adults in attendance, and found it very inspiring to be surrounded by people who shared the same commitment to sustainable practices that we have.
Topics of discussion at the roundtable event included student, faculty and staff engagement, building camaraderie through environmental awareness campaigns, student energy competitions, and ways of shifting our sustainability focus from the short-term to the long-term.
Looking ahead, peer advisor training for Week One begins August 13th and with my internship coming to a close there is still work to be done! Although I am juggling many things at once, the work has been very gratifying and I am determined to find a new role at the CCTS beyond LEEP.
So maybe it wasn’t 90,000 people sweating in the Tennessee sun, but last Thursday over 40 people showed up at the Clark Community Thrift Store (CCTS) for a night of sorting, pizza, music, and shopping! One of my goals as the Clark Community Thrift Store’s Campus Outreach Intern was to change the way the Clark Community thinks of the CCTS. The CCTS can be a fun community space, not just a place to shop, but a place to come together and have fun with friends and strangers alike. I decided a concert with local artists the same night as a sorting party would be a great way to do just that and started talking to friends who play music in the area. Between a post in our Facebook group and word of mouth, I was contacted by 7 artists who were able to perform!
The night started out with a former Clarkie, Jon, who DJs as BLK.MRKT.BTZ. He dropped some awesome beats to pump up our sorting volunteers. Jon also works with Mastermind Alliance to record local rappers with positive messages. One of those rappers, Ghost of the Machine finished off our sorting with lyrics that would blow you away. Free styling for over 5 minutes about important social issues?? I think everyone sorting was flabbergasted.
The party continued inside the store with pizza, and an acoustic performance by Clarkies and Clark Bar members Dan Deutsch and Marina Khananayev. Their rendition of Valerie (originally by the Zutons) got everyone in the store swaying. The shopping and music continued with Jack McAuliffe and Chris Lee playing sing-a-long tunes. By 10:30 there were people coming in the store off the street because of the captivating music filtering out the door. Our night ended with former Clarkie, Bettny Roze Mazur, who made everyone in the store speechless with her quirky lyrics and beautiful voice. She’s recording her first CD now and I know I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!
Everyone filtered out of the store by 11 but Gus, Sam, and I were left with a concert high like you wouldn’t believe. We made more sales than we had all day, got more volunteers for our next sorting party, and created lasting relationships with amazing artists who are excited to come back for the next concert. It’s amazing what an idea, some e-mails, and word of mouth can do around here!
Written by Sarah Philbrick, guest blogger and Clark Community Thrift Store Campus Outreach Intern.
This week I am happy to report that Worcester’s REC Youth Grow program began a project within the Clark Community Thrift Store (CCTS). This project is intended to provide valuable experience in retailing, merchandising, customer service, sustainability, and marketing for local teens. As the CCTS community outreach intern, I am excited about the possibility of involving Youth Grow in my community development work and the prospect of leveraging their understanding of the community, while at the same time bolstering their competencies in communication and marketing.
Another area that I am excited about is the store itself. Having had our second sorting party of the summer on Thursday, volunteers cleared space that was previously inundated with donation bags. As we move forward, we plan to turn the unused storage area into a furniture showcase.
This week the CCTS summer management team also received merchandising training from Jenny Isler. Thanks to her diligent instruction and honest feedback, we identified areas within the store that were in need of improvement, and I found the session to be immensely valuable. After she left, Sam and I immediately went to work making adjustments throughout the store based on what we had learned. As it would turn out, the training quite literally “paid off” as we ended the day with some of our best sales in recent weeks.
Having fully acclimated myself with the Clark Community Thrift Store (CCTS) during the past month, I am transitioning into a more active role as the store’s community outreach intern. One step I took in this process was to approach local businesses on behalf of the CCTS. In talking with the managers and owners of establishments ranging from restaurants to convenience stores, I gained a better understanding of local commerce and tested the waters for future partnerships within the community. While performing my Main South walkabout, I not only met a number of fantastic community members, but also a lot of rain.
One particularly remarkable stop I made was at the nearby coffee shop Acoustic Java. There I met David Fullerton, the shop’s general manager, and had a great conversation regarding the vast potential David sees in the CCTS. In speaking with David, I was struck by his willingness to provide honest insights and suggestions about running a business in the Main South community. Moreover, we discussed the importance of making the CCTS into more than just a good thrift shop by expanding what it offers to the surrounding community. Ideas ranged from showcasing local artists to hosting musicians.
With all that has happened I find it very fitting that last week’s work coincided with rain. I say this because water is a catalyst of change and growth, elements which are permeating my personal LEEP journey, the Clark Community Thrift Store, and the surrounding community this very moment. By following the CCTS’s mission of “working toward a more sustainable and connected community”, I am confident that my efforts will produce a foundation for sustained change and growth that will continue long after my LEEP project with the thrift store is done.
All in all it has been an exciting and busy week at the Clark Community Thrift Store (CCTS). Highlights ranged from a frantic phone call from Sarah begging me to disable the store alarm, to discovering that the roof had sprung a leak after a violent thunderstorm. Nevertheless, the week’s shenanigans did not deter us from hosting a sorting party that drew more than a dozen volunteers in our first event of the summer.
Because the CCTS collects a mountain of donations at the end of the school year from Clarkies who are heading home for the summer, it is vital that these donations are quickly sorted to ensure we carry a consistent and well organized inventory. Additionally, as the pictures in this post indicate, the pile of unsorted clothing and dorm accessories was taking up valuable store space. Knowing that we had the opportunity to increase outside involvement in the store, while at the same time making progress on work that needed to be done, we turned to the community for extra help.
With the promise of free pizza for those that came, volunteers began arriving promptly and went to work on the pile. Driven by the inspirational melodies of a radio I had fixed with a makeshift clothes hanger antenna, the mound was rapidly reduced in less than two hours.
As my first CCTS outreach event, it was extremely gratifying to have such wonderful volunteer turnout. Furthermore I got my first glimpse of what the “community” aspect of the store’s name really means by observing the lively atmosphere of teamwork, joy, and common purpose during sorting. In fact the enthusiasm and diligence of the volunteers was so positive, that it kept me smiling even when I opened a bag containing an odious yellow pillow! Based on great results of our first sorting party, we are planning on hosting more this summer.
Hello, my name is Gus Meissner and I am a rising senior here at Clark. The purpose of this blog is to share my summertime journey as the community outreach intern for the Clark Community Thrift Store (CCTS). I also intend to talk about some of the amazing people behind the scenes at the CCTS and what they are doing to ensure that the store continues develop as an important asset for the surrounding community.
Being an innovation and entrepreneurship student at Clark, I carry a deep passion for sustainability and improving the world around me. Thanks to my background, I already feel that I am a good fit for the job and am extremely excited about being involved with this fantastic organization. Having started my internship during the first week of June, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with both my CCTS mentors and colleagues on the thrift store’s summer management team. Although I plan to talk more about these unique change makers later, I will briefly share who they are now:
The LEEP Mentor Dream Team
- Jenny Isler– Jenny is the Campus Sustainability Coordinator at Clark and is one of the most passionate people I have ever encountered. I know she will push me to work hard and to think in new ways.
- Amy Whitney– Amy is the Associate Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship department, and like Jenny is an enthusiastic and creative guide.
- Laura Burgess– Laura is the Program Director at the Graduate School of Management. Because Laura is my academic advisor during the school year, I have known her the longest and her expertise will surely be of use if I encounter any major bumps in the road.
On the student side, I am working closely with Sam Brockman, a Clark MBA student in Community Development, and Sarah Philbrick, a rising junior and an economics major. In terms of an organizational hierarchy, Sam is the operations manager of the CCTS and has the most decision making power of the three of us. Like me, Sarah is also working to engage the community, but from the Clark side (I am directing my efforts outside of Clark).
Although I have only recently begun this internship, I can already see that there are numerous areas to which I could direct my efforts. However, I know that it will be crucial to set realistic goals that I can thoroughly accomplish. One of these goals is to post a new blog entry three times a month. Through the summer I will use this blog to discuss my learning process and provide updates on the work of the CCTS team. As I conclude this post I leave you with one question: what does the word “community” mean to you?