30 Year Anniversary of SOS Children’s Village Thrift Store Foundation
In 2022, the SOS Children’s Village Thrift Store Foundation celebrates 30 years of being a presence in the Steveston community supporting children and youth who need it most. In its early beginnings, dedicated Founders Lois and Gilles Bouchard along with their friends, family, and volunteers opened the store in hopes of supporting kids and youth who were part of Ministry care systems. At the time, the store was known as Treasure Cottage and a second location was also opened in Kerrisdale in 2006. Between the two locations, the Thrift Stores built a reputation as community hubs and a place to find some steals on great merchandise, all while pushing profits to support their charitable sister organization SOS Children’s Village BC in Surrey!
The SOS Children’s Village aims to support children and youth through a family-based care and child-centric approach, where decisions and activities are all made in the best interest and involvement of the child. We have sustained and supported close to 100 youth aging out of care systems into the greater community successfully. Thanks to the support and funds from the Thrift Stores, the Village was able to open its 5 homes by 2001. A huge feat for the team at the stores and a new beginning for the work we would continue to do in the community for children, youth, and families.
The success of the model is based on the wraparound support and care provided to children, and a continued sense of belonging even after youth age out of care. We aim to create a community that any child and youth can turn to, no matter how old they may be. The model has created consistent impact with 100% graduation rates for children who are in SOS BC programs, compared to those in Ministry care at 54% and 12% for youth who identify as Indigenous. Through programs that provide resources and support to children including educational, therapeutic, and youth services, along with our 4 pillars of foundational support (the healthy home, the SOS Caregiver, the Village Community, and working towards keeping siblings together), we believe and know that we can have better outcomes for children and youth who are part of Ministry systems.
In the early years, Store Managers Barb High and Vera Gover worked within the Steveson and Kerrisdale communities to engage the public and advocate for kids. With their steadfast support and skill in maneuvering through the community to raise awareness, the two continued to provide a place for volunteers to take action, providing housewares and clothing for youth and foster families at a fraction of the cost. With the exit of Barb High and the close of Kerrisdale store, the Thrift Store now has its single bustling location in the heart of Steveston Village. It is here where Store Manager Yasmin Tang engages her volunteers to produce inspirational, moving, and impactful window displays to draw customers in and consider topics in social justice.
The heart of the non-profit Thrift Store relies heavily on the donations of our community and the volunteers who sign up to back our cause. Without this commitment and willingness to want to help, the Thrift Store and Village would not be what it is today. SOS BC would like to take this opportunity to thank the hard work of our community, staff, and volunteers in creating a full circle of sustainable community methods through upcycling and environmental activities, through giving, and in the end, through the care that we can afford to provide to children through our Village model. Even in the midst of a pandemic, the store forged on, knowing that they could not lose momentum, knowing that it was all for children and youth in our community!