Turning a knack for interior decorating and shopping into raising nearly a million dollars to help low-income Williamson County residents seems an improbable feat.
But GraceWorks volunteer Judy Moser found a way.
Moser says she has two main talents – interior decorating and shopping. She also has a desire to help others, but couldn’t find a way to mesh that with her skills until Hurricane Katrina gave her an opportunity for service. Moser quickly volunteered to help GraceWorks organize, sort and distribute donations for hurricane victims.
Afterward, she began volunteering at GraceWorks once a week. The store manager noticed her skills and asked her to create and take charge of the GraceWorks Boutique, a section of the thrift store set aside for higher-end clothing, shoes, jewelry and household items.
At last, she was able to do what she does best and help people in need at the same time.
“What I was good at without being paid to do it was interior decorating, and I was a really good shopper, keeping up with styles and trends,” Moser said. “But I never figured out how God could use interior decoration. I felt I would never find my purpose.
“But the skills I have were perfect for this, and I can use them for the good of the community. And GraceWorks is kind enough to let me work in my skill set.”
GraceWorks has gained plenty from her skill set. Since the Boutique opened in 2011, it has earned $907,055. And much of that impressive sum is due directly to the style, decorating wizardry and plain hard work of Judy Moser.
She handpicks items, arranges them and manages to put them in a wonderfully eclectic style that attracts shoppers, who then become buyers. Boutique prices are a little higher than other GraceWorks store pieces, but still very affordable. The money gained from them helps fund GraceWorks’ mission, which is providing immediate and long-term resources to our neighbors in need.
She works 28 hours each week and sometimes more. In addition to the Boutique revenue, her volunteer work has been worth at least $236,572 at the federal rate for volunteer time – making her service worth more than a million dollars to GraceWorks.
And she’s still going. She oversees 14 volunteers, but pitches in more herself. She spends much of her time in a dimly lit and non-air-conditioned/heated warehouse sorting through items to choose just exactly the piece for the concept she has in mind. She drags clothing racks and carts filled with items into the store. She cleans, polishes, dusts shelves and works constantly on displays, which can change from moment to moment as items are sold.
Her labor and the funds that work brings in to help families in need are invaluable, said GraceWorks Retail Manager Lanette Loeb.
“Judy has been a great asset to us here at GraceWorks,” Loeb said. “Her knowledge of fashion and decor have helped us to grow the Boutique into a destination spot within the Thrift Store. I personally appreciate all her time and hard work as well as that of the volunteers she leads to help us make the Boutique thrive.”
—by Kathi McClure