2019 Arc Graduation

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Graduating is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. That is the model the Ambassador graduates at arc Thrift Stores know well and embrace in their daily lives. Arc University Class of 2019 had 127 graduates earning eight different degrees of excellence. The evening was filled with love, joy, and a ton of fun for all that attended.

Graduation 2019 Carol Lizzie

Lloyd Lewis, president and CEO of arc Thrift Stores, provided the opening remarks, introduced the speakers and handed out the diplomas to the graduates. Carol Creech gave an emotional parent tribute and expressed her appreciation for the Ambassador opportunities provided by arc Thrift Sores and Arc University. Carol is the dedicated and loving parent of Lizzie Creech, one of our Ambassadors and a 2019 graduate.

Valedictorian Seth Weshnak, gave all the Ambassadors encouragement by telling his story of perseverance as an arc store employee and his involvement with the University and social events. He gave a moving speech about his start at arc, his accomplishments as a proud cashier, and the three goals he still wants to attain. The highlight for Seth was when Lloyd Lewis announced to the audience that he will grant Seth two of his wishes, becoming a full-time employee and one day working in donations.

Graduation 2019 Seth LL Ryan

The commencement address was given by Denver7 news anchor, and dear friend to our organization, Nicole Brady. Nicole is a tireless arc Ambassador advocate and produces monthly profiles featuring our employees. We are grateful for Nicole’s support of our mission and her love of thrift shopping.

The night was topped off by an entertaining music video of the arc Ambassadors at work, at play, in class, and more importantly, sharing the joy of life together as a very special group of friends. As diplomas were being awarded, the sense of pride and accomplishment from the graduates’ families and friends and for each other was profound.

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi

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Ambassador Spotlight: Kingahnah

Kingahnah has been working at the arc Centennial store ever since the doors opened. He has been a valued part of the arc team doing whatever task is asked of him throughout a shift. He often works stocking shoes, running racks, and stocking shelves on the floor. Like many other Ambassadors, Kingahnah’s favorite part of the job is the customers that he gets to meet and help on a daily basis. He also enjoys the company of his coworkers and having the pleasure to work with such motivated and kind people.

Kingahnah and his coworker Elnaz were both just interviewed by a local TV station where they were recognized for all of the hard work they have done for arc and their community. Although Kingahnah works hard for arc, he also spends much of his spare time working on his writing and listening and creating music.

Kingahnah is currently working on a book called, The Box, a story about a young female lead rescuing a gentleman from a cult that is trying to recruit him. He enjoys writing suspenseful stories and poetry that take his imagination to crazy new places. While he isn’t writing, Kingahnah is practicing his DJ skills with his turntables. His passion for music started with hip-hop, jazz, and rock, but he has grown to love all different kinds of music.

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Ambassador Spotlight: Elnaz

Elnaz works closely with fellow Ambassador, Kingahnah, at the Centennial arc store. She has also been working at arc since the store opened in 2015. Elnaz was recently interviewed by the local TV station in a special segment for Mothers’ Day.

Elnaz works in the store stocking and organizing shelves, particularly in the kids’ section, but she will always help out wherever she is needed. Elnaz believes that work and life are both great adventures that have opened up wonderful opportunities and allowed her to meet great coworkers and customers.

Elnaz is a very kind-hearted and caring person who wants to make sure everyone is happy and she will do her part to make that happen.

Customer service is the #1 goal and priority for me.”

 When she is not spreading happiness throughout the Centennial store, Elnaz is often found in the bowling alley. She has won two awards in Colorado for Special Olympics bowling. Her highest competing score was 1,699 points in three games to earn her a first place medal. Although they have taken bowling out of the Special Olympics in Colorado, she still enjoys playing with her friends and family whenever she can.

“The things that arc gives us make us smile. They have given us many great opportunities.”- Elnaz

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Lorraine- Follow Up

Lorraine works at the JCRS store with her friends, greeting customers as they come in and out of the stores. I met Lorraine a few weeks ago and as soon as she saw me walk into the store she was excited to chat again for the arc blog.

Since we last talked, Lorraine started working with the Civitan volunteer group through arc. With this new project, Lorraine and other Ambassadors will help volunteer at places like local hospitals and animal shelters. Some of the activities Lorraine and the arc Civitan group will be working on are care packages for military families and helping to teach kids how to read. Lorraine loves volunteering in the community and helping others. She is very excited to stay active in the community and to help others who live in the Denver area.

“If I can touch one person, I did my job,” Lorraine tells me in regards to helping others within the community and arc stores.

Lorraine and her friend, Seth, who is also an Ambassador, work together most days at the store and have grown very close over the years. Lorraine remembers having lunch with Seth on his first day at arc.

In her spare time, Lorraine loves taking arc University classes through Arc University in Spanish and practicing her poetry. She is currently looking for a new house and is very excited about the change and for the chance to use her creative side and set everything up in her new home. She is also looking forward to getting a pet bunny once she moves in.

Lorraine is a valued part of arc and loves being able to great all of the customers each day with a smile on her face.

 

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Lorraine shows me the purple fairy she proudly wears every day, made by one of her longtime customers.

Civitan

Part of the mission of Civitan is to build good citizenship by providing a volunteer organization of clubs dedicated to serving individual and community needs. At our recent meeting, the Civitan creed was introduced to our arc Ambassador Civitan Club and we learned that this creed is our guiding light as we reach out in service of others.

 

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All of the men and women that work in the various law enforcement agencies do exactly that…reach out in service of others. As our group thought about the many risks police officers take to keep watch over our community, we decided to spend an afternoon creating big thank you posters to show them how much we appreciate their dedication. We had a magnificent time working together and being creative with our posters. One of the Civitan creeds says, “MY MIND teaches me respect for the law and the flag of my country.” We want to let law enforcement officers know that no matter how perilous their jobs can be, we recognize and appreciate the many sacrifices they make for all of us. We look forward to personally delivering our thank you posters to them.

 

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In addition to making the posters, our president Michelle asked for additional ideas for future projects that will help serve our community. The ideas were flying all over the room. Everyone had several really great ideas and the group is very excited to get the ball rolling for our next assignment. Elnaz, our club secretary, provided us notes from our previous meeting and studiously kept track of all the ideas presented. Club members also received their official Civitan International Club t-shirt.

Every meeting we attend going forward, we will recite the Civitan Creed to remind us of the commitment we have made to reach out in service of others.

 

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arc Warehouse and Recycling Program

Brian Tasler

April 22 is Earth Day. While the arc team LOVES this special day, the truth is that we celebrate our Earth EVERY day!!

Arc Thrift stores receive many donations each day. A lot of these donations are sold in stores, but a certain amount of them do not sell after five weeks, and go to the warehouse to be recycled. One of arc’s main missions is to keep donations out of landfills and to recycle unwanted materials in the proper manner. A lot of items that reach the warehouse to be recycled still have the chance to be of use to someone else. That is why we send a lot of the donations overseas to countries that make great use of these unwanted items.

When items leave a store after their time is up, they are bundled and brought to the warehouse. Clothing is one of the biggest items recycled, totaling around 1.1 million pounds of recycled and repurposed clothing each week. These clothes are sent to many different countries such as Pakistan, India, and China. Even if the clothes are not re-worn, they are broken down into textiles and repurposed, staying out of the landfills.

Many other items come into the warehouse such as shoes, belts, purses, stuffed animals, kitchenware, electronics, books, and more. All of these items are recycled and re-used by someone else, making sure your donations are getting used to their fullest potential.

Brian Tasler is the warehouse manager who oversees all of the complicated operations on the recycling side. Brian has been with arc for about two years, but he has worked for nonprofit organizations for ten years. Each day Brian coordinates with operations to properly execute the recycling of materials, and helps to load the truck with his team. One of Brian’s main jobs is also to go to stores and educate the employees on the proper recycling steps to make sure everyone across the company is on the same page.

Many nonprofits come to the warehouse as well to repurpose these items for their own nonprofits. People like Jim White, who takes the books about to be recycled and finds them new homes by giving them to children in need. Another nonprofit comes to take unwanted stuffed animals and re-gifts them.

Every step in the recycling process is aimed to reduce the amount of garbage in landfills and put these things to better use. About 28 million pounds are recycled by arc each year. Arc can find a home or new use for it all, and almost nothing goes to waste.

Even though your items may have overstayed their welcome in your home, it doesn’t mean they belong in the trash. That pot, lamp, shirt, pair of shoes, or book could be exactly what someone in another country needs. Arc makes sure your “trash” becomes something much more important, that doesn’t hurt our planet.

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Civitan

Civitan International is a global organization impacting lives at the grassroots level through local service clubs, and we are proud to announce that several of our arc Ambassadors have been made members of this amazing organization.

Members of Civitan share a Servant’s Heart and a desire to create positive change for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Further, Civitan membership goes beyond making a difference in the lives of others; it provides opportunities for personal growth, leadership training, and organizational experience.

 

Everyone had a magnificent time at the arc Ambassador Civitan Club charter celebration held at the Denver Botanical Gardens (it was a beautiful day, and yes, we roamed the gardens after the meeting). International president-elect Patsy Perkal presented the group with the mission and the rules that govern the club and introduced the club’s officers. Michelle Knight is the president and is charged with coming up with ideas for the club in its efforts to benefit the community. Kyle Knoeble is vice president, Elnaz Sobhi is the secretary, and Dominick Rivera is the treasurer. Each was presented with a special officer pin representing the special role they have in the club.

All members were presented with a pin and a charter member certificate. The pins are emblazoned with the organization’s motto: “Civitan hands – do the work of the world.”

The message of good citizenship rooted in compassion, service, and respect for people in need is central to the club. Check back with this blog to stay apprised of the many worthy efforts the new arc Ambassadors Civitan Club will accomplish.