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Ruth and William Brown are the founders of the Hoonah Baptist Mission whose goal is to serve the community with true kindness. Their latest planned addition to the Mission is a rehabilitation center for those with substance abuse problems.
Hoonah thrift store fundraises for rehab center 070517 AE 1 Mackenzie Fisher, for the Capital City Weekly Ruth and William Brown are the founders of the Hoonah Baptist Mission whose goal is to serve the community with true kindness. Their latest planned addition to the Mission is a rehabilitation center for those with substance abuse problems.

Sign for the Thrift Store. Courtesy image.


Inside the thrift store. Courtesy image.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Story last updated at 7/3/2017 - 8:34 pm

Hoonah thrift store fundraises for rehab center

Ruth and William Brown are the founders of the Hoonah Baptist Mission whose goal is to serve the community with true kindness. Their latest planned addition to the Mission is a rehabilitation center for those with substance abuse problems.

Beginnings

In 2007 Ruth and William started their non-profit in Hoonah. They currently run the local Thrift Store, Laundromat and Food Bank with the help of a few volunteer staff members. The couple are missionaries based out of their First Baptist Church in Sitka, working through the North American Mission Board. As they approached retirement, their pastor advised them to find something constructive to do.

“So we decided on mission work,” Ruth said.

After hearing stories about Hoonah from their daughter, Ruth and William decided to retire there.

“When we first got here we heard of people washing their clothes in their bath tubs, so we decided to open a laundromat” Ruth said. “Then from the people that came in to wash what clothes they had said they don’t have a place to buy clothes, and have to travel to Juneau to do so. And that’s how we got the idea for a thrift store.”

Ruth and William now have a network of people who send clothing and other household items to their Thrift Store in Hoonah. “People send me stuff from Florida, Wisconsin, California; we get a lot,” Ruth said. “A lady from Yakutat sends me clothes as well as another lady in Gustavus … It’s been an awesome experience.” They also have a diverse amount of name brand items available such as Columbia, The North Face, Under Armour and Clark shoes.

Hoonah resident Amelia Wilson wrote in a letter: “While living in a small community has infinite advantages, there are very limited clothing and household item resources available to us. The Thrift Store is a friendly, welcoming place that provides our village with much needed resources at an affordable cost. I am beyond grateful for the service this establishment provides and I’m always happy to see Ruth’s smiling face.”

Monica Zarazua, another Hoonah resident, can also attest to the good deeds done by the Hoonah Baptist Mission. Zarazua returned to Hoonah in January of 2017, and as a single mother of two young children, the struggle to become self-sufficient was challenging. Zarazua learned about the Thrift Store and stopped by one day to see what everyone was talking about.

“I met two of the most loving, caring, and giving people I know, named Ruth and William Brown. They opened their store and their hearts to me and my kids. They allowed me to take what I needed to clothe myself and my children, and furnish my home until I became financially stable. They never asked me to repay them and always said ‘tell us what you need and we will see what we can do for you,’” Zarazua wrote in a letter. “Ruth and Bill are such beautiful people with amazing hearts and I am forever grateful for all their help… They provide a service to our community that is not only greatly appreciated, but very much needed.”

The Southeast Food Bank located in Juneau supports the Hoonah Food Bank. “We go there and we load it up and bring it to Hoonah,” Ruth said. “We’ve given out 400 pounds of food this month.”

Substance abuse

The next big step for Ruth and William is their endeavor to build a rehab facility “out the road” where people can have the opportunity to heal. This project has recently launched.

“We’ve started the fundraising stage and we have some money already,” Ruth said. “But it still needs a lot more.”

They have been looking at a few pieces of land that could work for the rehab building but are still waiting on finances to make this new project a reality.

“I see a really big need for this in the community,” Ruth said. “Alcohol, domestic violence, it all comes together as one. We want to work with the community, with city hall, everyone and work together as a team. We want to get people aware of what we are doing and how we want to help.”

The couple currently holds a service group in their home for men dealing with various forms of addiction. They’ve used “Genesis Process” by Michael Dye, a religious program, as a guide; so far, ushering nine through the classes while another three are still going through the program. The couple has taken online college classes in substance abuse, domestic violence and opioids. Their staff is certified through Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE) located in Juneau as advocates for domestic violence.

They’re looking to expand into a larger facility outside of their home for the Genesis Process classes. Currently their Thrift Store and Laundromat supply most of the monetary support for the substance abuse ministry.

To learn more on the services offered or to donate, go to: hoonahbaptistmission.org.

Mackenzie Fisher is a freelance writer in Juneau.