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The Impact of Story Telling

January 05, 2023

Mavis, a dedicated employee at the Burlington Thrift Store with 18 years of experience, believes in sharing stories to make a positive impact in our communities.

Thirty years ago, Mavis arrived in Canada from South Africa. Unfamiliar with Canadian winters and with no money, she showed up at the Burlington Thrift Store in search of assistance after being advised that she could seek help from The Salvation Army. Wearing only a thin outfit, she was cold, shaking and feeling low. The Burlington Thrift Store took her in and gave her a voucher card which she could use every Tuesday to shop for items from the store free of charge. Of the first items she acquired was a winter coat, boots, and dishes, as well as other housewares to make her house a home. While visiting the store, Mavis felt cared for, listened to and empowered.

“They made me feel special when I was feeling low,” she said.

Mavis recollects a profound experience she had with another woman—a Donor at the Burlington store while she was waiting for a friend at the Donor Welcome Centre. As Mavis spoke to the woman, she explained her situation and how grateful she was to The Salvation Army for helping her. She then asked the woman for advice as to how she could repay the kind deeds. The woman in turn advised her to: “Pass on the message. Share your stories, share positivity, and spread kindness.” Which is exactly what Mavis did when she applied to work for the Burlington store and was hired.

It is Mavis’ passion as an employee to share her experiences to inspire others and to communicate the mission of The Salvation Army. She described one such experience about a disheartened man who visited the Burlington store years ago. “I saw that he was low and like myself in the past, needed help. When I asked how I could assist him, he told me that he was ashamed to be in his situation but needed clothing for a job interview.” Mavis took it upon herself to help him with kindness and as they picked out an outfit for him to wear free of charge by using a Salvation Army clothing voucher, he was uplifted. At the end of his visit, he was happy and smiling, which made Mavis smile and feel good.

“When you lift others up, it lifts you up too!” said Mavis. Three weeks later the man returned and donated $100 as a thank you to the store with a special shout out to Mavis because he got the job!

Also known to her local community for her love of hats and keen sense of fashion, Mavis wears a hat every day. Sometimes Guests walk into the store just to see what hat she is wearing! She’s also inspired locals to buy hats from the store.

When Mavis sees people walking through the Burlington store door, she sees a mirror of herself in them and vows to treat everyone with dignity and respect and a “bit more” to bring a smile to their face. She explained that sharing stories is a powerful way to make an impact and to educate others about what makes us different at The Salvation Army is how we make a difference in the lives of others.