BY JESSE LOUDENBARGER
For the past 45 years, shoppers have found unique treasures and low-cost clothing, household items, jewelry, crafts, books, and more at Opportunity House, a nonprofit resale shop that still operates at its original location at 907 W. 11th St.
As a nonprofit, Opportunity House has two major priorities. First, the store’s volunteers help disadvantaged and low-income people find affordable goods and basic necessities, including shoes, dishware, and linens. Second, Opportunity House funds community programs by donating its profits to Monroe County United Ministries (MCUM).
“All of our funds stay in Bloomington,” explains Julie Farris, co-chair, with Jill Argenbright, of Opportunity House. “Everything we sell is donated by people in the area, and the funds we raise are used to help the people that need it most. It really is an ideal situation for the community.”
Farris describes Opportunity House’s system of charity as a cycle: Low-income and underprivileged shoppers buy goods, and profits from those sales are used to support MCUM, which, in turn, provides services—primarily child care—to low-income families in the community.
But the cycle doesn’t stop there. “MCUM also offers a voucher program,” says Farris. The needy can use the vouchers at Opportunity House. “United Ministries provides food, clothing, and other items through us.”
Opportunity House has its share of regular clients, but through new initiatives, more and more people are coming in search of unique items and the occasional thrift-store hidden gem. Argenbright credits Farris’ use of social media and local radio to bring in additional demographics, including IU students and faculty. Still, they both want to spread the word to new shoppers and people interested in contributing to Opportunity House’s mission.
“We could always use more donations and volunteers,” says Farris. “We are actually in need of specialists to test electronics, but volunteers can work as cashiers or assist in checking new donations if they’d like. Every little bit of help counts.”