Out & About

What’s up… with that thrift store behind Goodwill?

There’s a little thrift shop a block off of Park Avenue, behind the well-known Goodwill. The store had been run as a fund-raiser for The Well, a ministry for people recovering from addiction. But they’re out, and the new guys called to tell us who’s in.

So, who’s running the joint? The people from Children’s Campus Ministries, led by Pastor Barry Coccellato. “All the money is used to reach and disciple and train kids,” he says. But the unusual part is this: Coccellato and his 12-year-old daughter, Ashley, have trained a group of teens and pre-teens to run the register, price and arrange the merchandise and help the customers. “The goal is for it to be run by youth,” Coccellato says. The kids say the work teaches them job skills and keeps them out of trouble as well. “Before I started coming here I hung out with the wrong people, says Lydia Devlin, 12. She also likes that “you get to meet people that don’t have as much stuff as you do.”

Where does “ministry” come in? Coccellato serves as kind of a father figure/mentor to the teens, many of whom are from broken homes. There’s a big spiritual component to the setting, with Coccellato leading Bible studies.

Who is this Barry fellow anyway? An ex-con! Seriously. He served nine years in prison for various bad things, mostly drug-related. But he found God and got clean and now uses his checkered past as an example of how anyone can change.

What’s next on his agenda? Coccellato has his eye on a piece of property (with a $375,000 price tag) he hopes will become The Father’s House, a home for abandoned and neglected boys. He says the nonprofit "residential discipleship home" is accredited by the California Department of Education. He also hopes to expand the thrift store and move it to a more visible location on Park Avenue. "Eventually, we will be opening a youth church," he adds.