“I call the old colour of the building ‘school portable yellow’,” says Pat Hicks, a volunteer at Newark Neighbours. “It was a little worse-for-wear, and didn’t do much to entice people in.”
A strong new board led by Hilary Bellis has given NOTL’s little-charity-that-could a brave new identity inside and out.
In the branding department, a new logo has been developed, along with a clean and informative new website.
In communications, there is a monthly newsletter to keep members and volunteers up to speed, as well as a regularly updated volunteer manual.
The building’s exterior has been given a fresh new coat of paint — a green hue chosen diplomatically by members and volunteers via ballot. The interior has been spiffed up with new shelving, a designers corner for higher-end clothing, and a glass display case for finer items like crystal bowls or china dolls.
New signage on the building and at roadside will be added shortly, making the charity easier for the uninitiated to find.
The changes go right through to the commode — the bathroom has been painted a cheery yellow, and even the compostable toilet is being replaced,
“For the comfort of our many volunteers,” says Hicks.
Susan Sparrow-Mace, head of barn maintenance, explains the compostable toilet: “We have no running water. The building is really just a large utility shed with wiring and ductwork. We’re so grateful to Riverbend for letting us do what we do here, on their property, in what is really their shed.”
All of Newark’s volunteers express this gratitude — to their landlord, their board, their patrons and their donors. “We’re here on the good graces of our incredibly generous community — and they are indeed generous. We felt it could be more pleasant for our customers to shop and to donate,” says Hicks.
The driveways and parking lot will be graded and re-gravelled shortly. Access from the Peller Estates Winery off John St. was recently made permanent, giving the building more presence and increased accessibility.
These upgrades were all paid for by proceeds from Newark’s thrift shop, which continues to thrive.
“It’s kind of like a family atmosphere, and that’s what we strive for. There’s something for everyone — members of the Horticultural Society come looking for vases; migrant workers come for clothing, kitchen appliances and tools, as well as clothing and toys to send home to their children. We also love to see locals looking for bargains,” says Cindy Grant, a volunteer.
“We’ll be asking the community to donate suitcases soon,” says Hicks. “We’re seeing some of the offshore workers starting to pack up their things and head for home.”