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Noah’s Ark reopens next Friday

By Staff | Sep 23, 2010

Noah’s Ark volunteers are preparing for the grand reopening on Oct. 1. Pictured in the front row from left to right are Roxie Baschian, Ruth Anderson, Pat Jones, Jane Adams, Pat van Alstyne, Susie Scutakes, John Pryor and Bob Rohde. In the back row are Gillian Bath, Mickey Huff, Bettie Modys, Jack Kalbfleisch and Jane Withers

Bargain-hunters of southwest Florida, rejoice!

After being closed for seven weeks to clean and restock racks and shelves, Noah’s Ark is finally reopening for season on Friday, Oct. 1.

Known to draw crowds of thrifty shoppers numbering in the hundreds, just over 30 years ago, Noah’s Ark was nothing more than a random collection of second-hand items stowed away in a small office at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.

“Actually, it started on somebody’s front porch,” said Noah’s Ark volunteer Bettie Modys.

“When I started in 1982, there were only four or five people working every day — two to mark items, two to put things out and one to work at the desk,” said volunteer Ruth Anderson.

Jane Withers poses with a pillow featuring a silly saying near the jewelry section of Noah’s Ark.

But as the frequency of donations and the variety of items began to grow, the community of loyal customers did too.

“We grew as the island grew,” added volunteer Pat Jones. “In the late 1980s, we really started outgrowing our little office in the church.”

In the early 1990s, half the structure that currently houses Noah’s Ark was built. Around 1998, due to another steady increase in donations, the building was extended into what it is today.

Members of the St. Michael’s congregation make up the large team of volunteers who process items and run the store, and though there are certainly several male members of the team, it’s the ladies that run the show.

“We are a committee of the ECW, the Episcopal Church Women,” Modys explained.

Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations are on display and ready for purchase.

In the early days of Noah’s Ark, all the proceeds went to the church. But as the store began to grow — along with its profits — the ECW decided to start supporting multiple local charities.

“We support so many,” said volunteer and President of the Ladies of the Episcopal Church Gillian Bath.

Among the many charities that have benefited from Noah’s Ark over the years are Brightest Horizons, Abuse Counseling and Treatment of Fort Myers, FISH of Sanibel, the Harry Chapin Food Bank, Immokalee Friendship House, the Salvation Army and Sanibel Community Housing and Resources.

“But nobody who works for the Ark does it for recognition,” Jones said. “You just do it because you do it.”

“We are a religious organization and we’re doing God’s work,” Modys added.

Noah’s Ark has lots of gently-used furniture for sale.

“It has turned into a community for the church, a very loving group of people, which is just as important for us as the money we make,” Bath said.

Originally there was only one chairwoman for the Ark, and then a different day chairwoman every day who would run the store each morning — and it’s the day chairman who decides what’s going to be on sale the day of her shift.

“That’s why when customers ask us what’s going to be on sale the next day, we can honestly say we have no idea!” Modys said.

But because Noah’s Ark has become so busy, there are now two co-chairs who govern over the store October through May, in addition to the day chair. Throughout the slower summer months, one person will take a month-long shift as chairperson.

“Some days, we all wear different hats. It’s really a team effort,” Jones said.

A lovely table setting designed by volunteer Bettie Modys.

The volunteers of Noah’s Ark said they’re looking forward to the reopening next Friday.

“A lot of our customers are like dear old friends,” Bath said.

“We’re almost like a family,” Modys added.

People can donate gently used items — such as furniture, books, clothing, decor, jewelry, dishware and shoes — to Noah’s Ark by leaving donations on the dock at the far right side of the store. The only items they will not accept are electronics (such as televisions and computers).

If you would like a receipt for your donation, Modys said, it’s best to donate when the store is open, but you can leave a self-addressed stamped envelope with your donation and you will receive a receipt in the mail.

After the reopening next Friday, Noah’s Ark will maintain an October schedule of Tuesdays and Fridays, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In November, the thrift store will be open Monday through Friday and the first Saturday of the month, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., until they close down in May.

Noah’s Ark is located behind St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 2340 Periwinkle Way.