John Knox Village resident volunteers manage and operate the on-campus RAS Thrift Shop.
At John Knox Village, we love to share stories of residents who showcase a unique dedication to an activity or volunteer opportunity. A group of our residents supervise and operate the Resident Auxiliary Services (RAS) Thrift Shop. A visit to the shop is reminiscent of the 1967 song lyrics by Arlo Guthrie, “You can get anything you want,” but in this case, not at Alice’s Restaurant, but at the RAS Thrift Shop.
John Knox Village was founded the same year as Arlo’s famous song. Nine years later in 1976, RAS was formed by two residents Juana Hux and Sarah Large, as a resident-directed non-profit organization.
Marsha Ellington, RAS Publicity Chair, described RAS’s mission in 2019. “The purpose of RAS is to render volunteer services for the general welfare of the residents of John Knox Village, working in cooperation with the JKV administration.”
“Some of the volunteer opportunities involve working at the Large Print Library and stamp desk and at the Curiosity Shop (Thrift Store). The shop is the primary fundraiser for the organization. Donated items are sold at reasonable prices. The income derived provides funding for requested items and programs which first must be approved by the Board of the RAS.” The Board of Directors includes 10 members at large, officers and committee chairs.
RAS President Claire Dunn
“RAS has helped to purchase defibrillators, hospital beds, an EKG machine, a pool table, the putting green, security cameras, construction of a new fitness studio as well as The Woodlands,” Claire said. “We have also bought a van, popcorn machine, bingo machine and of course donated to the Employee Holiday Fund every year. And very importantly, we fund the purchase of books for the many Village libraries and music pro- grams for our various choral groups.”
Claire said that RAS is celebrating its 45th year and has donated close to $2 million to JKV. The team of resident volunteers makes it all work. “Because of the devotion of our volunteers, RAS has been, and is, a huge success,” Claire said.
RAS Store Manager Lyn Walk
Resident volunteers at RAS bring their enthusiasm and career experience to the job at RAS. Store Manager Lyn Walk has enjoyed a long, and varied career, includ- ing airline stewardess, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train operator, and owner of a floral and gift shop in Alameda, CA.
“I must have inherited an entrepreneurial gene,” Lyn said. “I love merchandising, selling and especially interacting with the customers.”
Lyn shares that enthusiasm with a team of 25 volunteers, with 16 to 18 working on any given day. “We never know what inventory will be arriving. We have had Tiffany lamps, Waterford crystal, Persian rugs, fine art, miniature doll houses. Recently, we acquired a metal toy from the ‘30s, and volunteer Don Williams thought it might be worth quite a bit. It sold for $300.”
Don is another active volunteer who brings life experience to his job at RAS. He is an artist, a resident senator, a welcome ambassador for new residents and an experienced sales and store manager.
“I was formerly the general manager of Grand Fur- niture in Virginia Beach, VA,” Don told The Gazette. “Since I was in the furniture business, I am a worker in the furniture department.” However, Claire interrupted and said, “Don is indispensable.”
Working Together for Common Purposes
Volunteers Mary Busenburg and Nancy Custance showcase the latest fashions available at the RAS Thrift Shop.
Indispensable is a word that applies to all RAS volunteers. Lyn mentions Carol Woodburn, as another example of an indispensable volunteer. “She is a kind and caring person who knows virtually every customer by name. After eight years’ experience at the shop, she can answer almost any question that arises.”
Joyce DeJong, and her husband Don, have had a long association with RAS.
“I am a pricer,” Joyce said. “Our team checks everything when it comes in. We wash glassware, linens and anything that needs cleaning. Everything electrical or electronic is checked to make sure it all is in working condition. If it needs adjusting, we send it to the men’s workshop for further evaluation. We decide on the pricing to make everything very reasonable.”
The Thrift Shop is open Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons specifically for JKV residents and employees. For many, it is a regular stop twice a week to peruse the items for sale and renew friendships.
Longtime JKV resident and former RAS volunteer Edith Meinholtz visits every Tuesday and Thursday. “I love this place and the people in it,” Edith said. “I always pat the volunteers on the back and say, ‘we only shop the best places.’ I shop thrift stores and I know this is the best.”
Thanks to Every RAS Volunteer
Claire Dunn credits all who have made the organization a success. “We thank all those volunteers who have worked endless hours for years, not for payment but because of their generous hearts and the kindred spirits developed in the shop, the workshop and the campus itself.”
While the RAS Thrift Shop is not open to the general public, make some friends at John Knox Village and ask them to give you a tour and accompany you to the Thrift Shop. Learn more about JKV by calling (954) 871-2655 and make plans to visit the campus.