From left to right, Megan Schoephoerster, Lola Deane and Jennifer Glick at the Mercer Island Thrift Shop. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

From left to right, Megan Schoephoerster, Lola Deane and Jennifer Glick at the Mercer Island Thrift Shop. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Getting to know the volunteers and staff of the Mercer Island Thrift Shop

Shop is a major funding source for Youth and Family Services.

Lola Deane knows a ton about Mercer Island history. In fact, she is living history.

She resided on the Island from 1957-85, and during that time she helped launch Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (YFS) and was the original owner of Island Books. Nowadays, you can find Deane surrounded by books at the Mercer Island Thrift Shop, where she volunteers three days a week.

The shop is one of the city’s “volunteer havens,” she said while taking a break from organizing books on a recent morning. Interim administrator Sharon Perez added that more than 200 volunteers help out at the shop, from high-school and middle-school students to adults, and are crucial parts of its impact on the community.

Deane, who returned to live on the Island two years ago at Covenant Living at the Shores, said that volunteering is a life-long passion of hers and she’s impressed that the shop is a major funding source for YFS through its in-store and online sales.

When Mercer Island was developing as a city during her 28-year stay, Deane said, “One of the first things that was very recognized during the ’60s was that we needed help social service-wise with youth and families and so that’s when we started Mercer Island Youth (and Family) Services in 1970.” Peg Morgan was the YFS director then, recalled Deane, who thought it would be a good idea to support YFS again when she came back to town.

Over the years, Deane worked in nursing, owned an estate book business and volunteered with various nonprofits on the state, national and local level.

On the book front, two of her favorite recent page-turners are “State of Terror,” a political thriller by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny, and “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War” by Craig Whitlock. The latter book strikes a chord because she worked with Afghan refugees in northern Pakistan in 1989-90. It was a profound part of her interesting life, she said.

ONLINE LEADER

Islander Jennifer Glick, who specializes in the shop’s online sales, began volunteering at the shop last March. She wanted to give back to the community that helped her family through a difficult time.

“When we moved here, one of my kids had a problem. Youth and Family Services stepped in and they got him through his issues and really got him through that school year,” she said.

Glick is enjoying her two-and-a-half days a week working with the shop staff and volunteers. It’s also family bonding time when her 13-year-old son and electronics whiz lends a hand for a few hours a week.

Her job consists of researching, cleaning, pricing and photographing donated items for the shop’s online store. Recently, they sold a high-end mountain bike for $1,200 and rare hand-blown German Christmas ornaments for $100 each. Other high-quality donations have included jewelry and a 100-year-old stirrup.

Glick, a former biochemist for the University of Washington, volunteered for UW’s patient advocacy program about two-and-a-half years after her son was born with severe medical issues.

“We talked about this a lot after my son was born. We were so grateful that he was still alive. We can’t afford to buy a wing of the hospital, so what can we do? Giving my time was it,” she said.

WELCOME ABOARD

The newest person on the staff side of the operation is Megan Schoephoerster, who filled the critical new role of community engagement and volunteer coordinator at the beginning of October.

“I started volunteering again after COVID and realized that I really needed to get back into a volunteer-based organization,” she said, adding that the thrift shop was a perfect fit.

Schoephoerster moved to Washington from Minnesota four years ago and now resides in Federal Way.

Her long volunteering history began in middle school, where students were required to lend a hand in the community. In college, volunteering took over her life during her time with Bridging, an organization that provides furniture for people who are exiting homelessness or have lost their home.

“(They) just need that steady building block for them. That was the place that really drew me in even more,” she said.

At the thrift shop, she wants to help build a community that’s warm and welcoming and is a fun place to spend one’s time. Knowing that she’s giving back to a bigger organization like YFS is a plus, along with working with volunteers and helping them find their passion, she said.

The Mercer Island Thrift Shop has expanded its shopping hours by two hours each day and is now open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday at 7710 SE 34th St.

Curbside donation drop-offs are now accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center, 8236 SE 24th St.

Also, a new donation bin has been added at Islander Middle School, 7447 84th Ave. SE.


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