February 5, 2023

Garage Sale to Boutique

I run into people all the time who tell me, “I used to sort donations for City of Refuge in Jen Wheeler’s garage!” I love when I hear this. It’s a reminder of the rich and remarkable history of City of Refuge. It’s a reminder that so many of you have played an integral part in helping us grow into what we have become today. 

When City of Refuge started in 2010, our founder, Jen Wheeler, was inundated with donations. Friends, family, and other community members had heard that a small non-profit had begun to help refugees find employment. Generous people generously gave. They wanted to do what they could to help. As you can imagine, these donations didn’t always meet refugees’ direct need. There was some excess, some that was impractical, and some that was the wrong size. Rather than discard these items, we chose to sell. City of Refuge Garage Sales began popping up throughout the city, for years. The proceeds we gained became a financial cushion as we grew – affording us opportunities to meet more needs by hiring our first Care Coordinators.

But then 2020 happened… COVID happened. Sales stopped, and donation intake ceased. We were scrambling to meet the needs of our refugee friends. Like everyone, they were socially distanced in their houses as they sheltered in place. But we continued to meet needs, like teaching them how to set up Zoom for their kids when school went virtual.  As city restrictions eased, our in-kind donations began to increase significantly again. Generous people, generously giving. 

When the need for a larger physical space became glaringly obvious, we immediately envisioned that a space for selling donated items would be part of the mix. Just as we did in the garage sale days, we wanted to continue to use these kind offerings from our community in ways that would truly bless refugees, even if they didn’t directly end up in their households. 

And so, friends, we are happy to announce that on November 28, 2022 City Boutique will officially be open for business. We find the treasures, so you don’t have to. All proceeds from our sales go directly back into City of Refuge’s refugee programming and care – they will help make our everyday work happen. 

When you buy here, your dollars will have a global impact.

The money you spend at City Boutique will make a difference in the lives of real people. Real people with real needs that come into our office every single day. 

Today is Black Friday – it’s a day wrapped up in great deals, shiny new things, replacing the old with the new. When and if you buy today, consider also what you do with the old. If it’s still in good condition, we would love for you to consider donating to City of Refuge. If it doesn’t meet a direct need of a refugee, we will sell it through our Boutique. Come check out City Boutique this holiday season. We’ll be open Monday-Friday from 9:00am-4:00pm. Every dollar you spend has an immediate return on investment. It’s impacting lives. When you give, when you buy – you are truly partnering with us to change the landscape of our city and beyond.

Debbie Beal

Executive Director 

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