Quad City Times covers the Fresh Start Sale

The Quad City Times reporter Mary Louise Speer posted coverage of HMHI’s Fresh Start Sale in the paper yesterday:

Catholic charity sale gives families a Fresh Start by Mary Louise Speer

The sign over the door states Sister Sale, but there are no sisters for sale at the 22nd annual Fresh Start benefit sale at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, Davenport.

However there are plenty of gently used items available — gleaming fine china, silverware, comforters, toys and furniture. All proceeds will support the Humility of Mary Housing program and services for single-parent families. The sale kicked off Tuesday and runs through noon Friday.

“We’ve had families tell us we’ve been able to open doors for them when many doors were closed,” said Sister Mary Ann Vogel.

Her mother, Gertrude Vogel, launched the sale in 1990 to help support the housing program. Eventually, the event outgrew the original location and now takes place at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, and Gertrude Vogel continues to support the event.

“I think the thing that’s so interesting with this sale is the volunteers,” Mary Ann Vogel said.

The list of helpers ranges from long-time volunteers, Vogel family members and youth from Arrowhead Ranch in Coal Valley, Ill., who supplied muscle power to load and unload two truckloads of items.

“There’s such a neat camaraderie with everyone,” volunteer Alice Ellison of Davenport said as she carried a brightly colored play table to the checkout for a young mother.

Ellison and other volunteers attended Catholic schools taught by sisters of the Congregation of Humility of Mary, and she recalls those years with appreciation.

“I had a good rapport with them,” she said.

The 2011 sale features an unusual collection of costume jewelry brought to the sale by Vogel’s sister who lives in Seattle. The collage of rings, earrings and necklaces originally belonged to a distributor who sold and collected the jewelry back in the 1970s. The daughter agreed to donate the jewelry to the sale, knowing the money would support a good cause, Mary Ann Vogel said.

The furniture section features dining room table sets, a wood settee, dressers and a fireplace. Volunteer Ivan TeBrake of Sun City, Ariz., said he couldn’t make up his mind on what item he would want to take home. But the fireplace, complete with mantel and equipped with sound, light and heat controls, is definitely a one-of-a-kind donation, he said.

He is married to Mary Ann Vogel’s other sister, and the summer trip is an annual pilgrimage for the couple.

“I do it for Sister Mary Ann,” he said. “But you get a lot of satisfaction.”

Mary Ann Vogel is pleased that two of this year’s onsite helpers are the granddaughters of long-time volunteers. The next generation is getting ready to help with ongoing efforts to provide transitional and permanent housing for families in need, she said.

The program operates 47 apartments for about 100 children and their parents. Originally, these families were locked in worries over finding safe places to spend the night and having enough to eat. Volunteers and staff work with the families to carve out brighter futures.

“You see the changes when there’s a stable home environment and the parents working on training and education,” she said.

Photo credit: Larry Fisher/QUAD-CITY TIMES

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