Donation-Based Thrift Store Aims To Help Homeless, Those In Need

Store Operates In Janesville

JANESVILLE, Wis. - A former men's shelter in Janesville is reaching out to residents in need by refocusing its efforts.

The changes are providing the homeless with hope that things could get better, according to Mike Tearman, owner of the Shelter, in Janesville's Fourth Ward.

In 2010, after neighborhood complaints, the city denied giving the Shelter a permit which would have allowed men to sleep there overnight. After Tearman was again denied a permit in May, he began lending tents to the homeless men seeking shelter at the now day facility.

"Those tents were turned back in now that the weather is colder. We're focusing now on getting people into (affordable) apartments and housing," he said. "One of the problems that (the men) have is (that) after they provide the first month's rent and security deposits, there isn't a lot of money left over."

Tearman is working to build the job skills and resumes of those men by offering volunteer opportunities at the Community Donation Center and Thrift Store on Center Avenue in Janesville.

David Kronhanke is one of roughly 10 homeless men volunteering there. Kronhanke's custodial work is also building his customer-service skills.

"Now that I don't have a job, this gives me something to do -- pass the time, talk to people, help people out," Kronhanke said.

"The store and the shelter have been nothing but a gift to the community -- the poor community," Tearman said.

Shoppers will not find price tags on any item. Tearman said all sales are donation-based.

"The truth is, if you can't afford it we will give it to you," he said.

Kronhanke said while working at the thrift store, he has seen how the furniture and other housewares are making a difference in people's lives and, after two years living on the streets, he hopes to return to the store as a customer.

"I'd like to find a place to call my own home," he said.

Most of the items bought at the thrift store are donated and anyone can shop there. Tearman said they are most in need of furniture and clothing, especially men's pants and jeans.

For more information on the Shelter or the Community Donation Center and Thrift Store call 608-931-9085.

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