Judaism 101: charity

Judy Turtletaub

Photo By Larry Dalton

Since 1982, Jewish Family Service (JFS) has given aid and assistance to Sacramentans in need. In 2003, JFS opened Second Hand Rose, a unique, nonprofit thrift store that functions as both a retail boutique and a means to raise funds for JFS’s many community-outreach programs. Judy Turtletaub, executive director of JFS, understands that a thrift store needs to be more than an array of yesterday’s duds: Under her supervision, Second Hand Rose has become a distinctive outlet for seasonal fashions, furniture and collectibles. To find out more about JFS and Second Hand Rose, located on Fair Oaks Boulevard in Carmichael, go to www.jfssac.org.

I’ve heard that Second Hand Rose is not your average thrift store.

It’s a nice boutique shop with a lot of brand-new merchandise—all the women that have bought their clothing and left the tags on and never wore them. Or bought that size 8, couldn’t fit into it … and then never fit into it.

It also has a great social atmosphere. Every time I go in there, which is pretty much daily, I run into somebody I know. It’s a social place. Half the shop is women’s clothing, and that makes sense because women shop a lot for clothing. The other half is a variety of household goods, furniture, sporting goods, costume jewelry and a lot of older collectible items.

What inspired JFS to open Second Hand Rose?

It came about from a relationship we had with the WEAVE [Women Escaping a Violent Environment] thrift shop. We were working with them in relation to our refugee program and getting vouchers for our refugees that were new arrivals; it grew out of that process. They encouraged us to open a thrift shop. At the same time we were working with WEAVE, our office was getting calls daily from people trying to give us items of furniture or clothing, so we decided—with WEAVE’s encouragement and, really, guidance—to make this into a great thrift shop.

One of the things the thrift shop allows us to do is to help people who really can’t afford clothing or to set up a home for themselves when they are in crisis. We have the capacity to just give them anything out of the thrift shop, and we do that frequently. We have one disabled gentleman who is all alone in the world and has a psychiatric disability, and we take him over there to shop several times a year because he doesn’t have any discretionary income at all.

Do you get a lot of people willing to help out?

We have a staff but are looking for more volunteers. We have around four volunteers a week, but it’s not enough.

The store filled up immediately when we first opened, and we’ve been getting a steady stream of donations since. We do a lot of outreach and have donation bins around town at the synagogues.

How do profits from Second Hand Rose make their way back into the community?

It helps fund Jewish Family Service and helps to service clients, provide them with free clothing and household goods when they need them.

Some of the programs that we offer to help people with are mental-health counseling, family or individual. We have elderly-support programs—things like transportation, grief counseling, a respite program for memory-impaired seniors—and we have social workers who do assessments and crisis management. We have a few youth-at-risk programs: after-school tutoring at elementary schools and a life-skills class at Cordova High School, which we do every week. And we do refugee resettlement.

Oh, really?

People who are refugees are those who are oppressed, primarily because of religious reasons, in their country of origin. So, we help resettle Jewish folks from the former Soviet Union, and Christians and Bahais from Iran. When they have a family member here in Sacramento, that member can apply to have them join them, and then the State Department does an interview. It’s a long process, but, ultimately, they’re approved to come here, and then Jewish Family Service helps them resettle. We work for years with the many people we help.

What other programs do you run through Second Hand Rose?

We also take used medical equipment—like walkers, canes and wheelchairs—and we give them to people who can’t afford to buy them. We do this through the thrift shop, and it’s called The Loan Closet.

I think that Second Hand Rose is a really fun place to shop. We want it to be unique and high-quality. There are a lot of vintage, funky clothes there, as well as things you would need every day. It’s friendly and fast. We help people put outfits together—it’s Nordstrom East with a personal shopper even!