By John Larson
Sally Nelson, president of the nonprofit organization, said the need for the store is as great as ever.
“Right now we serve about 400 people on a regular basis. Last week for the 30th anniversary we had about 150 people come into store,” Nelson said.
Past president Lola McWhorter said volunteers are what make the business work.
“We started out originally to help the elderly, to make donations for Good Sam’s seniors,” McWhorter said. “Wanda Ramzel, one of the founders, helped open the store the same year Good Sam’s opened, 30 years ago.”
Founders of the organizations included Ramzel, Francis Senn, Evelyn Fite and the late Florence Kottlowski.
The group started out selling off racks set up at the fairgrounds before it was able to use two rooms in a residence near San Miguel Church in the early 1970s.
After a few years they moved to California Street, occupying the building currently housing the New Mexico Educators Credit Union. Before moving into its present location last year, the thrift store was located on Fisher Street.
“It represents the life blood of the community,” McWhorter said in an interview. “People who shop here … where are they going to go? Many can’t even afford to buy clothes at Wal-Mart.”
She said donations are always needed.
“We provide three services,” McWhorter said. “First, a place to get rid of clothes and items. Second, a place for people to shop. And third, the donations we make to help seniors.”
In addition to regular contributions to Good Sam’s, the store donates money to support the senior citizen centers in Socorro, Veguita and Magdalena, Socorro Village, Vista Montano, Meals On Wheels, C.P.A., La Vida Fields, and the DAV.
“The store continues to have a steadily increasing number of customers,” McWhorter said. “They come from Magdalena, Veguita, really all over the county, even from Reserve and Datil. “A lot of people buy their kids’ school clothes here each year. They can’t afford to go elsewhere,” she said.
The group has 27 active members, all who work on a volunteer basis.
“We do it because we enjoy it,” volunteer Susan Miller said.
The store also tries to have walkers, wheelchairs, and crutches on hand.
Pictured: Volunteers at the Tierra de Segunda Thrift Store on Tuesday, Dec. 14 (from left): Clarence Lopez, Della Benavidez, Lupe Lukesh, (an unidentified customer), Sally Nelson, Lola McWhorter, Wanda Ramzel, Cynthia Kopp, Estella Reichenbach, Jan Reed and Judy Muncy.
Photo by John Larson