Salt & Light is more than a store.
Now, you won’t see it when you walk into Salt & Light. No, when you walk in you will see a store. We have clothing, shoes, furniture, and households. There is a changing room in the back. There are cash registers upfront. We have groceries, fresh produce, frozen items, and awesome sales every day. There are dozens of staff and volunteers here to serve you as you make your purchases. We are a store that’s open for everyone. That you can clearly see. And we need you to shop.
Our store is here to serve you. It’s also here to serve us. See, at our core, we are a ministry. Our desire is to share God’s love by fighting poverty and its damaging harmful effects on individuals, generations, and society as a whole. We do this by empowering people with new and fresh opportunities that lead to lasting change. Our desire is to see people become the people God desires them to be. They then bring change to their family line and to the community they reside in. The store is where this happens.
Salt & Light is a training ground.
Poverty is a complex creature and fighting it one must take a multifaceted approach. One way we do this is by opening up opportunities, like vocational training and education. The prospect for on-the-job training here is huge and the possibilities continue to grow!
- Clothing processors
- Customer service
- Professional internships
In each of these departments, one can learn a variety of skills. Teamwork, problem-solving, self-management, and computer skills are just a few examples. Non for profit groups, schools, and even churches have found this to be true and use Salt & Light as a safe place to train the people they work with.
People also come to us on their own initiative seeking help. We call the people we work with directly “participants” as opposed to “recipients” or “clients.” Participants fill out and keep their own schedule, they clock in, they work as a team, and they work (really hard). Our participants gain useful skills and vital self-confidence through daily encouragement.
Salt & Light restores dignity.
Our participants are called so because they are actively engaged in meeting their own needs. Participants earn minimum wage in store credit an hour and can earn up to twenty hours a month. With that, they can choose what food they will put on their table or even which table they are going to put in their home. They provide what they need by their own efforts. That’s something that many are robbed of in most poverty alleviation efforts. Though done with the best of intentions, when one in need is handed something without any costs, week after week, it is unintentionally communicated that they have nothing to offer. We have found that free is actually costly. It demands the recipient pay with dignity. We fight poverty with dignity.
Our participants are meeting their needs. Their spirit is refreshed as they do so.
We also work with many people who may never find work outside of Salt & Light. Disabilities limit their job choices. They don’t lack resources as much as they lack purpose, yet another form of poverty. Salt & Light meets this need as well. You can see it in the eyes of “the least of these” when they proudly say, “I work for Salt & Light!”
Salt & Light is a community.
When you walk into our store, you might not see at first glance that we are more than a store. But if you listen, you might hear it: “This is my home away from home.”
I’ve never heard, “This is my happy place…” at a big box retail store. Here at Salt & Light, if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times – “this is my family.” This truly is a place where community happens and not just for our participants. Customers, donors, staff, and volunteers have found this place to be their place. Why? At our core, if we are anything, we are relational.
We have found that lasting change happens at the relational level. According to Dr. Thomas Sowell, isolation is a major contributing factor to the poverty problem. People in poverty lack strong social networks and/or they don’t have the same access to knowledge or methodologies that other “successful” groups have. Doing life together opens up a new world with new possibilities.
More simple than that, people are more open to helping a friend than they are a stranger. You might not cross a street for a stranger…you’ll move mountains for a friend. And, yes, even a struggling person needs to trust the one who is trying to help. A cold handout won’t change the world. Love will. We are relational.
And that’s what makes this place unique.
Jesus said it: “By this everyone will know you are my disciples if you love one another.” You can’t buy that in a store. He can’t merchandise that. You can’t even teach that in customer service. And that’s why we are not just a store. We are Salt & Light.