Thrift shop offers support to pregnancy center
The Shirley Grace Thrift Shop hopes to provide exactly what people seek, whether it’s some hope and warmth or just a really good bargain. Operated by the Shirley Grace Pregnancy Center, the non-profit thrift shop just opened in Route 113’s Banks Plaza in Frankford.
“[We wanted an] upscale thrift shop so, when you walk in, it doesn’t feel like your typical thrift shop, but prices are still incredibly low,” said Mari Quillen, the pregnancy center’s founder and executive director.
So, people truly in need of a good deal can find quality items in a boutique atmosphere.
Located in Berlin, Md., the non-profit Shirley Grace Pregnancy Center provides support for pregnant women and families on the Eastern Shore, including free limited ultrasounds, parenting classes, options counseling, post-abortion support, prenatal vitamins and other services.
Shirley Grace is privately funded through donations. When they couldn’t always find a place for the baby items they received, the group decided to share with the community and fundraise by opening a thrift store.
Beyond the collection of clothing for women, men and children, there’s a wall of housewares, kitchen items, games, books and other found treasures. A collection of small furniture, blankets and baby toys can also help make a home.
“We want the women, especially, but anyone who comes in, to feel welcome and warm and invested. That’s what we’re here for anyway, not just the pregnancy center, but for people to feel their worth,” said Quillen. “We just feel so much that the women at the pregnancy center … don’t know how valuable they are. It’s an extension of the ministry.”
Quillen has been there, remembering her “own level of despair” when she experienced an unplanned pregnancy at age 18. “Not knowing all my options,” she said, she chose to terminate the pregnancy.
“In life, we all make hard decisions, but those decisions don’t define us,” she said.
Quillen got involved in post-abortion healing, and eventually she and her husband found themselves happily expecting.
However, it became a crisis pregnancy with only a 3 percent chance of a live birth. Quillen chose to carry to term anyway and experienced what she calls a miracle.
“She was with us three weeks,” said Quillen, remembering her beloved daughter, Shirley Grace, born in 2010.
Within six months, the pregnancy center opened to help other women through tough times.
“It all had a purpose. We take the ashes of despair … whatever they’re going through. God can make some [purpose] out of darkness,” Quillen said. “There is hope. Not that I don’t grieve and it’s not hard.”
Today, the Shirley Grace Pregnancy Center helps women and families in “choosing healthy decisions.”
At the thrift shop, shoppers can see the effect of their purchases. Quillen pointed to a photograph on the wall: a charming baby born to a client of the pregnancy center.
The shop’s grand opening on Oct. 12 featured a sizable crowd, including a family with four girls, who just happened to pass the shop en route to Pennsylvania.
“I like it. It has cool clothes,” said Lydia Wible.
“Good prices,” said Abbey Wible.
Both girls had their eyes on dresses that cost $3 and $5.
“It will be [successful],” said co-organizer Carol Finke. “We just opened the doors, and the people were coming,” from teenagers to adults. “We’re so happy with people who have donated. We are totally blessed.”
Volunteers will help run the store, keeping costs down.
Although people don’t always have spare cash, Quillen said their donations of “awesome clothes or collective items” find new purpose at the shop.
“We would like to thank … those who are shopping and donating. They are making investments. They’re not just giving money. They’re giving hope to women and to families who desperately need it,” said Quillen. “[There’s] going to be lasting effects on what they’re doing. We at the pregnancy center get to see the fruit of that.”
New and gently used donations are welcome during regular hours, Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tax receipts can be issued.
People can also receive shopping vouchers by registering for the Partners Program. Then, anytime they take a Shirley Grace parenting course or continuing education, they receive “Mommy and Daddy Money” for the shop.
Anyone who is pregnant or has children up to the age of 2 is eligible for services.
In the future, Quillen said she hopes the shop will be a “catalyst” toward opening a full maternity home to serve the homeless population.
The thrift shop accepts cash and credit cards for purchases. It is located at 34407 Dupont Boulevard (Route 113) in Frankford. For more information, contact the Shirley Grace Pregnancy Center at (443) 513-4124 or visit Shirley Grace Thrift Shop on Facebook.