Misi Rose has found her calling. She is the Operations Director and Volunteer Coordinator for Mercy Mall, a nonprofit organization in Chesterfield that provides clothing, household items, and baby gear for families in need. Rose began her journey with Mercy Mall as a volunteer, and worked two part-time jobs. When the nonprofit gained more community support and offered her a part-time position, she knew it was where she needed to be.
“I prayed with my family over the decision to quit the other jobs and take on more responsibility,” she said. She believes it was the right decision and embraces her work with enthusiasm. And like the other three part-time employees, she volunteers far more hours than she gets paid for.
Rose describes the organization as a boutique, a step above a thrift store. The merchandise rooms are sectioned off, inviting and uniquely decorated. “We meet with families one on one to figure out what they need. We serve families who are in crisis,” she said. “Their situation may have been caused by a fire, domestic violence, financial crisis, human trafficking, or incarceration. We are also finding more grandparents who are raising grandchildren and need resources.”
Rose shared a story about a single mom with five small children named Brittany who came to Mercy Mall for help. She had been referred to the nonprofit by Social Services.
“I was praying so hard, and God made a way,” Brittany said. Mercy Mall was able to supply her with her children’s needs and give her the encouragement she needed to make some changes in her life.
“We pray with our clients, just as we did with Brittany,” said Rose. Since that first meeting, Brittany has improved her financial and living situations and has been able to give back to the organization by volunteering over 100 hours helping others. She knows what it is like to be in crisis and thankful that she got help.
“Mercy Mall is striving to be the most efficient and reliable supplier of clothing and housewares for families in crisis in the central Virginia area,” said executive director Stacey Jones. “It is a goal that is leading us to expand and grow in new ways.” The organization is located in Chesterfield, but had its humble beginnings in Arkansas.
“I volunteered with a church in Arkansas that opened a free boutique in 2010. The idea was to create an opportunity where people could get a hand up with dignity and excellence.” In 2011, Jones’ family moved to Virginia.
Months later, she partnered with a new church that saw the value of the program and made it part of their mission, but the church shut down a year later leaving Jones with only a table and a rolling cart to keep the service running. Jones persevered, and five years later Mercy Mall moved into a 10,000 square foot warehouse near the Chesterfield airport.
Mercy Mall has a clear vision of its mission. “We do not do food or furniture,” said Rose. “We do not have the room or the volunteer capacity to fill those needs.” Instead, the organization networks with other nonprofits with a focus on those areas and makes referrals. Other organizations do likewise and refer their clients to them, she added.
Unlike other local nonprofits, some of which get county funding, Mercy Mall relies entirely on donations and therefore is not bound by its geographical location. “We have served clients as far away as Blackstone and Virginia Beach,” said Rose. Other than food, Mercy Mall has found that people in crisis need basic supplies, and that is their focus. Babies need diapers, children need clothes, and families need household supplies to get them through tough times.
“Our hours are limited due to our limited number of staff and volunteers,” said Rose. “We are open by appointment only.” Families are greeted by volunteers or staff who evaluate their needs and help them shop in the boutique. “We are a faith-based organization, but we have no restrictions on the faith of those we serve.” The organization serves 200 families per month. “We would like to expand our operating hours, but we need more funding to hire more staff. Office hours are Wednesday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Those are the same hours that Mercy Mall accepts donations. Rose feels like the staff and volunteers at Mercy Mall are like family. They support their clients, but also support each other. To inquire about making a donation to Mercy Mall, or to make an appointment for service, please visit their website at mercymallva.org or email email@example.com. To volunteer contact Misi Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.