It’s the new craze—thrifting, where shoppers are finding the value in gently used clothing and household items. But for this Northwest Arkansas based thrift store, the profits made from kettle pots, mattresses and flannel shirts directly fund programs to build relationships with NWA’s youth.
The Potter’s House Thrift Store, which opened a new location on Highway 412 in Siloam Springs, started after
Shawn Schwartzman built a relationship with a family. That relationship grew to more families and expanded into small group meetings and programs for kids.
Now, with more than 27 small groups, 45 leaders and 120 students involved in a variety of programs, this non-profit proves that one relationship formed in 1998 could develop to meet the needs of families and kids across NWA.
“There are incredible things in NWA, and just like everything else there’s some brokenness,” Josh Hall, the K-6 director and small group overseer for Potter’s House, said. “I don’t think that that is unique to NWA. That’s our world; it’s broken. We serve to meet that need. We want to engage people in their brokenness and in our brokenness.”
The thrift store was not only meant to fund Potter’s House programs, but also to provide job training and jobs for high school students who are in the program.
“Without the store, we would not be able to do these things in peoples lives,” Schwartzman said.
Potter’s House has four programs: Wet Cement (preschool and mentoring programs for children 0-5 years), The Academy (afterschool program), Set Apart (summer program for high school students) and weekly small groups.
Potter’s House seeks to give every kid the opportunity to have a hope and a future.
“What is important to us is relationship,” Hall said. “Our job is to connect people to Jesus and model him—figure out what it means to be Jesus in a nut shell.”
Jasper Logan, coleader for 7th through 12th grade, said that as staff, they hope to give students the tools necessary to empower themselves to be self-sufficient, as well as a future to help do whatever is necessary
for the next level.
“There are people who care and are willing to help at any stage,” Logan said, as he described how Potter’s House is invested in every stage of life—from preschool to post college to the parents to even thrift store employees.
“By the end of the summer, it was interesting to watch the seniors who have been in the program for years and to see and hear how much they have changed and grown in Christ and themselves, academically and all these different aspects,” Becca VerHoeven, a senior family and human services major who interned at Potter’s House this summer, said. “I was able to see all the effects that Potter’s House has on the majority of these kids.”
Potter’s House believes that the best way to impact a child’s life is by doing life with them, emphasizing the importance of the mentorship programs.
“Sometimes what we do is difficult to define,” Hall said. “What we do is life and that looks different all the time.”
VerHoeven, along with four other adults, did life-on-life ministry during her internship. The students and adults had Bible studies, fun activities with the students and worked on building those mentorship relationships.
“[It was] probably one of the most impactful summers of my life,” VerHoeven said. “They challenged me to be a better person and dig deeper in my relationship with Christ.”
“Potter’s house began to build relationships, these are the ones that are formed,” Hall said.
With this new location of Potter’s House in Siloam, Potter’s House has the opportunity to grow the programs as well as impact more kids’ lives.
“We care about the heart and for them to be secure within themselves to become anything when they put their hope, faith and trust in Jesus Christ,” Logan said.
To help, donate or shop at Potter’s House Thrift Store, or volunteer for any of the programs. Visit www.pottershousethrift.com.