Lake Norman & Mooresville

Special Treasure store will employ youth

Mooresville residents Bob and Ann Ferguson and Susan Gandy have been sorting clothing, toys, furniture and more.

Most of the time youth from Children's Homes of Iredell County were working with them.

Despite different ages and backgrounds, the group worked for about a month toward a common goal: To open Special Treasures, Gifts in Kind With Our Youth in Mind, a thrift shop in downtown Statesville.

Adult volunteers will help operate the store but the youth ages 14 and older will be employed to assist customers, sort inventory, stock and more. The teens are from Children's Homes, a private, nonprofit organization that provides Iredell County children a home-like environment during family crises.

"We are trying to give kids real-life work experience," said Brenda Speece, executive director of Children's Homes of Iredell County. "At the same time, we are trying to get them out in the community and work with the people.

"We want to change the perspective of the youth that live in a group home. It's an education for our kids and for the community."

The youth are the reason Fergusons and Gandys got and stay involved with the Children's Homes organization. Both families live in The Point.

"We had the kids over for a day on the lake and had a blast," said Ann Ferguson, 49. "We grew to know the kids and wanted to get more involved because of the kids. They were respectable and well-behaved."

The Fergusons moved to The Point seven years ago. Once their children were off at college and they had time on their hands, they started to get involved with nonprofits in the community, first with the Mooresville Soup Kitchen.

While Ann Ferguson says they enjoy volunteering at the soup kitchen, she saw that some of those needing help needed help years ago, as youth.

That's when she started learning about Children's Homes of Iredell County. Ann Ferguson was a member of a spiritual book study group in Mooresville called Building Bridges that included Susan Gandy, five-year board member for the Children's Homes, and Kathy Kranz, board president.

The Fergusons first started their involvement by hosting a lake day and later a fall festival and adopting a few of the youth for Christmas.

Now, they are about to host their fifth day on the lake in three years, and Bob Ferguson is the board vice president.

"This is the most generous community I've ever lived in," said Bob Ferguson, 59. "It's amazing how people come out of nowhere to help and do it nicely."

The Fergusons have been leading the way collecting donations for Special Treasures.

They set up a donation spot at The Point and received enough donations initially to fill 25-foot and 15-foot trucks.

Bob Ferguson says donations are still coming in and more will be needed.

The idea for Special Treasures started because the youth in the Children's Homes were having no luck getting jobs, Speece said. She and board members felt the youth needed job skills to be successful.

With seed grant money from a silent Mooresville resident and a $35,000 donation raised at The Point Foundation's January gala, the Children's Homes rented a vacant building on North Center Street in Statesville. Volunteers and youth have painted, decorated and divided the space for cloths, furniture, toys, jewelry and more.

"This is a group of individuals who are committed to making an impact on the lives of the youth in Iredell County," said Speece of the volunteers. "They never say 'what are we going to do' whenever a problem arise; they say 'this is how we are going to do it,' and that is the attitude that gives our youth the model they need to see for life."