The grand opening of the Regroup Upscale Thrift Boutique was, well, grand.
And for one Frayser family – the Johnson-Crump household – it marked an extraordinary fresh start.
“I started out homeless more than 20 years ago,” said Patrice Johnson, a member of the Pursuit of God Transformational Center at 3759 North Watkins in Frayser.
“Pastor Ricky Floyd allowed me to move in with his family. I had a young son, and we had nowhere to go.”
Floyd and his wife, Sheila, are known in the Frayser community for helping families experiencing tough times.
“This very house I now live in is the very house I came to for help,” said Johnson. “I am raising 15-year-old twin boys, and something very wonderful has happened with the opening of this thrift store (in a once abandoned strip mall on North Watkins).
“Both my boys have jobs after school there. They are so excited.”
On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Johnson’s twins – Christian and Kailen Crump – got to work all day because they were out for the holiday week. They were awake by six that morning.
Like many other young people, Johnson’s boys waited anxiously for the six-month renovation to be completed, knowing they would start working their first real job.
Johnson knew the store would be a symbol of what possibilities exist for Frayser residents to provide opportunities for their own young people.
“I have so much to be thankful for this year,” said Johnson. “The Husband Institute (a nonprofit Pursuit of God ministry) has helped me raise my boys to be young gentlemen. They have been at the Institute all these years.
“Their father died in a car accident when they were only a year old. My pastor and my Pursuit-of-God-Church family have been here with us every step of the way.”
Only the beginning…
Dignitaries joined excited community residents for the Nov. 18 ribbon-cutting ceremony by Floyd, the store’s visionary.
There were speeches and talk of more community investment, as an eager throng of shoppers waited to explore the promising treasures inside.
The ReGroup Upscale Thrift Boutique will keep our youth engaged,” Floyd said. “As they work and learn, they are developing the qualities of character that strengthen their resolve to ward off drugs, sex, and gangs.”
Floyd continued, “Allowing our young people to help run the store and other businesses in the works, we will not only teach them personal responsibility and marketable job skills, but they will come to understand the principles of wealth-building through entrepreneurship, first-hand.”
The Husband Institute and I Am She Mentoring at Pursuit of God also offer career counseling, mentoring and nurturing, along with affirming guidance for at-risk youth, ages 6-17.
Stipends will be paid to the young people working as boutique associates.
Don’t miss the miracle…
In the excitement of shopping and feeling the pride of seeing community young people working to make an honest living, Frayser residents might miss the miracle.
“This Thanksgiving, we have been given so many gifts, but there is one gift that most characterizes the marvelous transformation that has happened right before our eyes,” said Johnson.
The wonderful plans for additional businesses are great, Johnson said. A spa, a garden to grow and sell vegetables, and other enterprises Floyd said will create additional jobs for our young people — all are spectacular.
“But something has happened after those boutique doors opened,” said Johnson. “It wasn’t just my boys, or our household, that this wonder occurred. We can see it in our children at church, our neighbors in the community. The possibilities have opened the door to other visions.”
Johnson, the twins, and her oldest son, Paul Kimble Jr., 24, enjoyed a bountiful Thanksgiving meal and being with family like so many others.
But things were different this year.
“The Lord has bestowed upon us gifts, priceless, what no amount of money could buy. And this is the miracle. Our children have hope, and I believe they are building courage and self-confidence to dream their dreams as they grow and work.
“Anything is possible,” said Johnson. “They have optimism. Thank God, they can see a bright future.”