New St. Vincent de Paul thrift store opens in Omaha
Marty Smith stood in the front of the new Society of St. Vincent de Paul thrift store at 5505 N. 90th St. in Omaha, and looked out over the crowd gathering near the entrance.
He shook hands with a few people and exchanged pleasantries with others.
Smith, who took the position of executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul last November, smiled to himself.
“The whole reason I decided to accept the position full time is the hope that we will be more connected in more ways to the people we serve,” Smith said.
The April 10 grand opening of the northwest Omaha store in newly renovated space serves as validation for the direction Smith is hoping to take the society.
“People come to us for help to pay a bill, but just paying the bills doesn’t help the deeper problems,” he said.
His desire for the organization, he said, is to increase the spiritual awareness of “who we are in God and come to feel that deeper calling that takes a more heightened sense of our own relationship with God and one another and hopefully this leads to becoming a neighbor.”
So that they aren’t just paying bills and calling it a day, but seizing that opportunity, the society offers to become a friend and accompany the person in need.
In this way, Smith said, he is convinced the Spirit of God works in the lives of those in need.
When the devastating flooding hit Nebraska last month, he said, the society joined with other agencies in offering assistance to the people impacted by going to relief centers in Bellevue, Fremont and Elkhorn to hand out $25 gift cards to Walmart and Casey’s General Store, as well as thrift store vouchers.
The vouchers allow a person to purchase household goods, furniture, bedding and clothing up to $200 in value from one of the four Omaha-area St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores.
To date, more than $5,000 in gift cards and $60,000 in vouchers have been handed out, Smith said.
“From the very first weekend we’ve been handing out the vouchers and gift cards,” Smith said. “It’s a drop in the bucket but we hope it will help.”
The vouchers are funded through donations and sales from stores like the new northwest Omaha store.
“The larger, brighter space should help to bring in more shoppers and donations that will help generate more income that allows the society to continue in its mission to help people in need,” said Tony Valencia, general manager of the society thrift stores.
The 90th Street facility replaces a store at Maple and 60th streets, which recently closed.
Plans are also in the works to expand the stores at 21st and Leavenworth streets in Omaha and at Tara Plaza in Papillion, Valencia said.
More than 600 volunteers helped tag products, hang clothing, and arrange furnishings, among other things, to get the northwest Omaha store ready for opening day, he said.
It’s that spirit of service that drew Matthew Little to work as the store manager at the new location.
“Everyone here just wants to help in one way or another, it’s a real sense of volunteerism that makes the difference,” he said.
Anyone who wants to donate or who has been impacted by the flooding can call 402-341-1688 or go to www.SVDPOmaha.com for more information.