The Vail Depot Comes to Vail by Anne Gibson

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TSW students (left to right) Miguel Sanders, Victoria Ramirez and Ryan Ortegon will be among the first Vail high school students to learn soft skills at The Depot.

The middle or late November Vail Depot Thrift Store (Depot) will be open. It is the first project of the Greater Vail Community ReSources (ReSources) program to meet its slogan “neighbors helping neighbors.”

The Depot is appropriately named, as it is located in downtown Vail between the railroad tracks, in what was for years Kelly’s Feed Store.

Last spring the District was provided the opportunity to purchase land “between the tracks” at approximately 50% of appraised value. The additional acreage is providing a much needed, highly convenient and centralized location to expand maintenance and transportation operations, said Vail School District Superintendent Calvin Baker.

The District gathered a large committee of community leaders to provide advice on the use of the property’s frontage on Colossal Cave Road. The committee saw the opportunity to use the frontage to benefit the community. One specific recommendation was to convert the old feed store into a thrift store. ReSources will operate the store with the involvement of several student classes and groups. Profits will be used to benefit both ReSources and the Vail Education Foundation, Superintendent Baker said. The Vail Education Foundation provides grants to teachers for educational purposes or programs that benefit the students of the Vail School District.

“The store is to provide a steady source of funding for the food bank,” said Connie Plummer, Vice President of Operations of ReSources charged with overseeing the operations of the thrift store. ReSources is an Arizona non-profit corporation with a board of volunteers that supports the devoted volunteers manning its programs.

The Vail Education Foundation in collaboration with ReSources will enter into a lease agreement with the District for the building and then split the profits from the store, she explained. The Depot will be totally run by volunteers until such time as the store is financially able to hire a manager.  Two volunteers ReSources have been fortunate to recruit are Ev Campbell and Carol Porter. Both women have volunteered with the Impact Food Bank that will be turned over to ReSources January 1st, 2017, said Connie Plummer. “I worked for 44 years and raised three kids, but always volunteered,” said Ev Campbell as she talked about her experiences volunteering for Davis Monthan Air Force Base Thrift Store and another in Eastern Washington State.  This is something the community needs and is ready for. It will help support our food bank, Ev Campbell said as she mentioned her husband Tom has also been helping with the thrift store and food bank.

Carol Porter has over 27 years of volunteering with thrift stores in Washington State and three more once moving to Vail. “I love it. It keeps me busy. I get to meet new people and help people who really need it,” she said.

Collaborating with the Depot is the Vail School District’s Transition School to Work Program (TSW). TSW teacher Julie Wilson has introduced four students from the TSW program, along with their job coaches Jessica Bakki and Theresa Hoffman to Depot for placement during school hours.

It is our job to help our students be the best employees they can be, said Julie Wilson. At The Depot they will learn all of the soft skills such as helping customers, preparing merchandise and working the cash register to name a few skills.

The TSW is the result of a partnership between the Vail School District and the State of Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration. TSW is a Vocational Training program, Julie Wilson said.

The Depot when it opens will be staffed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Donations may be dropped off at the Connex storage unit behind the old historic post office Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Receipts will be provided during those days and times.

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