Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes
By edhat staff
The Unity Shoppe temporarily closed its family programs location and laid off fifteen employees last month due to financial stress.
The local nonprofit closed its 1401 Chapala Street location on Monday, September 16, which offers free food, clothing, and school supplies to those in need. The services at their 1209 State Street location remain open and offer Job Smart, Senior Services, and Disaster Programs as well as a retail gift shop.
The Diana and Simon Raab Charitable Trust is currently offering a $100,000 matching donation challenge as the Unity Shoppe asks the community to pitch in on their website.
The Unity Shoppe's management team is currently volunteering to support its diabetic and emergency clients as well as raising the funds necessary to reopen its doors to the community. They're hoping for a mid-November re-opening in time for the holiday season.
The nonprofit cites providing support for over 1,500 victims of the Thomas Fire and Montecito Debris Flow as creating a strain on supply levels and cash flow shortfalls. They also stated cutbacks in funding from donors and grant providers who directed their fundraising dollars toward the natural disasters, and purchasing a building in late 2017 to complete the relocation of Unity Shoppe's eight support programs added to the financial stress.
“On the plus side, the purchase of our newest building virtually eliminated the costs associated with rental fees, property taxes, landlords’ insurance, and maintenance as well as potential increases in rents or associated moving costs, all of which weigh heavily for an organization of our size and complexity, “ says Tom Reed, Unity Shoppe’s Executive Director.
Barbara Tellefson, Unity Shoppe’s Operations Director for the past 45 years adds, “Our goal was to leave as little cost as possible for future leaders of our organization and guarantee they devote themselves completely to serving our community.”
The Unity Shoppe was founded in 1917 by activist Pearl Chase and averages 20,000 clients that are served each year. The Unity Grocery Store and Clothing Center is relied upon by 10,000 households annually and more than 1,800 volunteers work alongside Unity staff, including hundreds of seniors who help a range of residents with their handiwork; 5,000 essentials care packages are distributed locally by volunteers to homebound seniors and the disabled.
“For over a century, members of this community have counted on us for support when they’ve needed it most; we’re incredibly optimistic that now they will answer the call and come to our aid in return,” says Reed.
To make a donation, go to www.unityshoppe.org; or for more information, contact Tom Reed, 805-965- 9051 or Pat Hitchcock, 805-979-9511