LUVERNE — Redeemed Remnants, a thrift shop that serves as a fundraising arm for ATLAS of Rock County, has seen both its donations and sales increase since moving into much larger digs in the former Kawasaki building in downtown Luverne.
Michael Blank, director of ATLAS (an acronym for Attaining Truth, Love and Self-control), said the move in March was the answer to prayers and two years of planning for the nonprofit, faith-based organization that helps individuals with physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Purchasing the building allowed both ATLAS and Redeemed Remnants to be under the same roof, not across the street and half a block away, as they previously were. Already, Blank said they are seeing the benefits of being side by side.
“The biggest advantage we saw in having Redeemed Remnants and ATLAS together is the ministry side — being able to visit with staff and pray with staff whenever needed,” Blank shared. “It’s nice now to work with them on everything from ordering stuff to working with them on anything policy-related. It’s so much easier.
“Plus, we like those people — it’s nice to see them every day,” he added with a grin.
With the move, Redeemed Remnants gained double the floor space, while also having enough space for a large work area in the rear of the building to sort through donations.
With people spending more time at home during the pandemic, there was a marked increase in donations, and the response had a trickle-down effect.
“We sort through it and pick out the best of the best to resell,” Blank said. “What we don’t sell, pick-up loads go to Savers in Sioux Falls (South Dakota) or Justice for All in Rock Valley (Iowa). Nothing is wasted.”
With increased donations, Blank said deliveries to the two other sites have also doubled.
“What we’re seeing financially is more gain from Redeemed Remnants, which allows ATLAS to help more people,” he said, noting that income from the thrift store makes up about half of ATLAS’ funding needs. The remainder comes from area churches and private donors.
While COVID-19 led to an increase in donations, it has also led to an increased need for emotional and spiritual ministry, said Blank, who also serves as a male mentor. Loree Ness is the female mentor and assistant to the director. Together, they comprise ATLAS’ only paid staff, while Redeemed Remnants has four paid staff and 44 volunteers.
ATLAS provides for people’s physical needs through a variety of services, from assisting individuals with rent and car repairs to food and deposits for rent. Generally, people can access financial assistance once in a six-month period.
While the agency is on call 24-7 to help people, Blank said people are encouraged to make appointments for mentoring. Some clients are seen for a short time; others he has seen every week for the past two years.
In addition to mentoring those who request it, ATLAS also offers a workplace chaplaincy program. Blank said he visits 12 local businesses to provide employees with a short gospel message and to pray with the owners, managers and employees.
“That was primarily why I was hired almost three years ago,” he noted.
Shortly after beginning his work with ATLAS, Blank said he came to realize the organization is a win-win for everyone involved — those who work in the thrift store, those who save money by purchasing from the thrift store and those who seek ministry at ATLAS.
“We really are blessed to be able to help people,” he said.
ATLAS of Rock County is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday. Redeemed Remnants, meanwhile, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. They are closed Sunday and Monday.
Donations to Redeemed Remnants may be made during the hours it is open by entering the alley and parking near the double doors at the rear of the building.