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St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store – A Means to an End

Rob Greuling is on a mission, that took him a few years to find. A member of the area’s St. Vincent de Paul Society, Rob was looking for a project to help the less fortunate of his community – the homeless. But few groups have had much success in finding a way to address this growing challenge. As a former executive with industry, Rob knows how to run a business, but also how to plan for one. Any good plan must include the end goal and the means to get there.

Having a solid base of funding to house and support people than need a place to get a fresh start is the challenge, with few obvious choices. But after a long journey of soul searching and providential encounters with just the right people, Rob and his wife Sally are executing their plan to achieve their goal. It starts with a thrift store.

Rob has learned that the successful model for funding a homeless program is all about collecting and selling the unwanted or used pieces and parts of our lives. With the aid of dedicated volunteers, the sale of donated items is the key to raising the funds for his dream of a homeless shelter in Jackson County. The soon to be opened St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, located in the Gulf Breeze Shopping Center in Ocean Springs, is the first of what Rob hopes is a string of stores that will fuel his ultimate goal.

Initial funding for the endeavor is being provided by the Raskob Foundation and other generous donors. The store is owned and operated by the St. Maximillian Kolbe Conference, Inc. Donations of household goods, furniture, electronics and clothing are welcomed. Smaller items can be dropped off at the store. Larger items like furniture can be picked up by calling Rob at 228-215-6261. Volunteers are also welcomed and can contact Sally at 228-215-1610 or [email protected]. Once launched, the store will be open 6 days a week, from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and until 3:00 p.m. Saturdays.

Rob, Sally and their dedicated volunteers will launch the store with a “First Look” event on March 21st, from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. This ticketed event will allow participants to “pick and choose” among the diversity of items in the store, including a book store (a partnership with the Friends of the Ocean Springs Library) and a “boutique” (a partnership with the Advocates for Freedom). Other partnerships are welcomed and encouraged. Rob hopes to forge additional partnerships with other community organizations that can also use the store to support their missions.

Tickets for the “First Look” are $20 and can be purchased by dropping by the store (back door) or contacting Lori McCormick  at 228-806-1722 or Sally Greuling at 228-215-1610 or [email protected].

As for Rob’s mission, it is driven by this often-heard turn of phrase – If not me, who? If not now, when? If not here, where? The who is Rob and Sally Greuling. The time is now. The where is the newest thrift store in Ocean Springs.

Photos contributed by Rob Greuling

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Written by Mark W. LaSalle, Ph.D.

Mark is a naturalist and wetland ecologist, providing expertise on wetlands, water quality and environmental impacts of humans. He has also developed and conducted a number of environmental education programs and workshops for youth, teachers, realtors, and the general public on a variety of subjects including wetlands, natural history, and environmental landscaping. Mark is a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana (B.S. and M.S. degrees) and Mississippi State University (Ph.D.). Mark is the recipient of the Chevron Conservation Award, the Mississippi Wildlife Federation Conservation Educator Award, the Gulf Guardian Award, and the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award.

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