Rescue Mission thrift store workers cherish cool gift

Rescue Mission thrift store workers cherish cool gift
July 09
00:00 2015

In above photo: Scott Burwell, left, Dewey’s Bakery fundraising sales operator, visits with the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission Thrift Store staff, volunteers, and men from the shelter as he and Blue Ridge Ice Cream donate ice cream to all workers and customers in the thrift store to beat the summer heat on Thursday, July 2. (Photo by Erin Mizelle for the Winston-Salem Chronicle.)
By Nikki Baldwin
For the Chronicle

On Thursday, July 2, ice cream was distributed to the workers at the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission thrift store from noon to 1:30 p.m.
The workers, who endure extreme heat because of the lack of air circulation within the old factory building, push through the heat on a day-to-day basis with no complaints.
The fundraising operator and sales manager at Blue Ridge of Dewey’s Bakery, Scott Burwell, distributed the ice cream to the workers. Blue Ridge ice cream officials originally heard about the problem from Lynne Garms, executive assistant at the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, and decided to help out.
The idea of Garms contacting Blue Ridge came from Greg Cooney, the director of programs at the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, when he bought and distributed slushies to the workers two weeks ago as a way to help cool the workers off. This eventually led Garms to think of another way to show appreciation to the workers that can also cool them off.
This led her to Blue Ridge.
“Pat on the back goes so far; ice cream in the hand goes a lot sweeter,” Burwell said. “Being able to do this is a super opportunity.” Burwell believes in giving back 100 percent, for he feels that is why God put him here. Burwell said they would donate and come out as many times as Garms needs them to.
The thrift store manager, Kathy Taylor said water, fans, a break room with an air conditioner, and push pops are often used to help cool off the workers.
“Many of the men that work here live at the Rescue Mission for various reasons such as loss of their job, addiction, or even prison, which is why they come to the Rescue Mission and are put into the Work-Therapy program: to help them learn valuable work skills that can help them get back into the work force,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the proceeds gained from the store goes back to the Rescue Mission to help fund projects such as the Work-Therapy program.
Ronald Watson, who is one of the workers who just got out of prison said, he enjoys working at the thrift store, for he used to cook in prison. T
his is his first time working doing manual labor, such as moving heavy items and sorting through the donated items. When asked how he copes with the heat, Watson said, “Once you start working and moving around, the heat don’t really bother you, for I’m glad to give back.”
Another worker, Rashad Bitting, who came from an office background, says he realized that working at the thrift store is uncharted territory, but is enjoying it. Bitting said, “I had strayed from my path, but am now working with the Mission program to get things together and priorities straight to get back on track.”
Zollie Willaims, another worker who completed the Work-Therapy program and will be graduating from the program on Sept. 25 at the Center Grove Baptist Church, calls himself an advocate for seniors.
Williams, who says he is 90 days over drinking, doesn’t have many trade skills besides the eight years in janitorial service. He said he wants to do well and have faith one day at a time.
Williams, who was brought to Christ through the program on Jan. 9, wants to continue to connect with the program and show older people to not quit.
Williams has already moved on to the next step in the program and can’t wait to see what new life has to offer.
For more information on the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission thrift store contact 336-723-1848, ext. 100.
For questions about the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission Work-Therapy program, contact Cecil Gatling at 336-723-1848 ext. 109 or visit

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