Thrift store volunteers reflect on working with Good Shepherd Humane Society

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

For the volunteers at Good Shepherd Humane Society’s thrift stores, going to work isn’t “ruff” at all.

Janet Chupp, manager for both the Berryville and Eureka Springs stores, said the work dynamic at both the stores and the shelter is like a big family, attributing the warm and fun atmosphere to the volunteers’ shared passion for helping animals.

“Basically, I have the great privilege of working with some of the most incredible people on the planet,” Chupp said. “You just don’t get better than animal people, who are willing to donate their time and energy to help animals who can’t help themselves.”

She said she and the other volunteers feel supported by the board of directors in everything they do.

“It’s the greatest organization, and you couldn’t ask for a better boss,” Chupp said. “I feel supported, and it’s a great place to be. I try really hard to incorporate everybody as a big family. I think it’s really important that everybody from both stores and the shelter be reminded what we’re here for: taking care of the animals and finding good homes for them.”

Volunteer Nan Johnson said Chupp does a great job of not only helping animals find a home but also making the volunteers feel at home in the thrift stores.

“Janet is a great boss. I’ve been a volunteer coordinator in the past, and it is hard work,” Johnson said. “She creates an environment where you feel nurtured. I feel nurtured by working for Good Shepherd.”

She said the volunteers use the positive work environment to provide happy lives for the animals in their care. She said she and volunteer Dave Spencer have fostered 56 dogs and cats from the shelter.

“Since I’ve been volunteering at the shelter, I can picture each animal, and some of them stay there for a while and some of them go quickly,” Johnson said. “It always tugs at my heart since I’ve personally known so many of them over the years.”

She continued, “When I’m here, I tell the shoppers we stretch every penny. You should be proud to shop here. What I really like about the store is there’s an intimacy to shopping here. I feel like we feed the animals and we feed the hearts in Eureka as well.”

“I’m proud to be part of such a good organization doing such good work,” Spencer said. “I enjoy all the people I meet when I’m at the cash register.”

Peaches Spiritwalker, who volunteers at the Berryville store, said coming to the store was fulfilling when she was a customer and is even more fulfilling now that she’s a volunteer.

“I love it. One of my mottos is ‘If it’s not fun, I’m not going,’ ” she said. “I really have fun helping people and being of service to them so we can fund the shelter. The point of it is the animals, but I enjoy the people, too. I’ve been told I’m not someone who goes to work, I’m someone who entertains at work.”

Spiritwalker said volunteering at the thrift store is her way of giving back to the community.

“Being a part of this makes me feel like I’m being a constructive member of society,” she said.

Volunteer Melissa Greene said the work is all about making sure the humane society and the animals prosper.

“It means everything to ensure those animals have a place, a refuge, and have a chance to get a forever home,” Greene said.

Volunteer Pat Crawford said the thrift stores are one of the largest sources of income for the shelters, so the volunteers play an important role in supporting GSHS.

“We have a great time at the Berryville store. Everybody is a lot of fun, and we sort of fawn over the customers when they come in because we want to make sure they feel welcome,” Crawford said. “I believe the thrift stores are the largest income for the shelters, so the better we do, that’s great. I love working with the people that come into the store.”

Volunteer Mark Hyde said the thrift stores are one way animal lovers can help GSHS cover the costs associated with caring for so many animals.

“It costs so much money to help animals. People don’t always think about that, and it seems like there are many animals that need help,” Hyde said. “This is one way we fund a big part of the budget. It would be very hard for me to be at the shelter, so this is a way I can support the shelter without actually being there.”

“We have rescued many dogs and found them homes,” said volunteer Hallie Roberts. “It really saves us more than it saves the dogs. It is very rewarding. It gives you purpose.”

The Eureka Springs Doggie Thrift Store, located at 124 W. Van Buren, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Berryville Doggie Thrift Store, located at 207 Eureka Avenue, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Monday. For more information, call the Eureka Springs store at 479-253-9115 or the Berryville store at 870-423-2870.

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