People matter. That’s a mantra often spoken, but when it comes to OTS, it is lived. How often we all wish for a community that embraces reciprocal relationships and rewards dignity through work. In Franklin, such a place exists and needs to continue. 

Samuel, our son with high functioning autism, is a miracle in the making, a young man who has faced hardships and near death experiences with a smile and a bravery that is inspirational. God brought Samuel to us from across the ocean, from South Korea, when he was four months old. Two weeks after he came home, meningitis and Kawasaki’s disease threatened his life. Through many such bouts with illness, we knew all would be well, and, thankfully, Vanderbilt saved his life and put him on the road to fulfilling dreams, living. Eight years ago, Our Thrift Store came to our attention, and we heard the story of how young people, adults who have struggled with issues or disabilities in some form, were thriving. 

Samuel volunteered for a year, and then became part of the OTS family, and it truly is family. Authenticity is the hallmark of the Krikacs and all involved in the workings and the everyday operations of the store. For seven years my son has worked with, celebrated with, prayed with, and had fun with people who look at each others’ hearts first, see worth in each life. He has learned the value of caring, of being needed, of mattering in a place away from home where he can develop skills, grow towards his potential. His biggest regret is that he does not yet have the health to work there full time, but that is his goal. 

Many have stories such as Samuel’s, and each needs the opportunity to realize that he/ she is needed, is useful in this world. My husband and I have a combined 60 plus years in education, and have marveled over how many young people when asked what they want most in this world respond by saying,“home.” OTS fosters the sense that the world needs one’s presence, that all have a purpose, that each has the ability to serve and enrich others because each is allowed a chance to work, to give, to be known. OTS is the kind of place that answers the yearning so many feel, a wish to be valued, have dignity, contribute, be home. 

In Samuels’s words: “Our Thrift Store is a place I can work hard, a place filled with great people, a place of understanding… Hugs from my coworkers are the best.” 

by Sandra Gatlin King, mother of Samuel Gatlin Pascale