The Ecumenical Storehouse has five primary resources with which to conduct its ministry:
- Grants: The Storehouse is a member of the United Way of Anderson County and receives funds from that organization. Designated donations are received through the United Way of Greater Knoxville. We also receive funds from The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tennessee, Benevity Fund, Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club Foundation and other non-member sources. During 2019, $17,584 (35% of cash receipts) was received through these organizations.
- Financial Donations: The Storehouse receives financial donations from local churches and individuals. During 2019, $26,581 (54%) was donated by churches and individuals.
- Household Goods Donations: The Storehouse receives most of the goods it distributes from the community. Based on a sampling of goods leaving the Storehouse and the Salvation Army’s IRS average donation values, an estimate for goods provided to clients during 2019 was about $278,000 – by far our largest resource.
- Sale of Goods: With the consent of the donor, especially valuable household good donations are sold through auction houses in order to receive additional funds. A breakfront selling for $500 at auction can supply over 30 families with fans, instead of one family with a piece of furniture. During 2019, $5,381 (11%) was received from auctions of this type and the sale of junk metal.
- Volunteers: We depend heavily on volunteers. Until July 2018, we had no paid staff and now only have one paid helper. With a typical month experiencing about 510 volunteer hours donated and the latest available Independent Sector's Tennessee volunteering value of $21.98 per hour, the approximate value of the volunteer labor donated during 2019 was $123,319.
The Storehouse accepts, stores, and distributes almost every type of household goods, including stoves, washers, dryers, refrigerators, small appliances, mattresses and bed frames, pillows, dining tables and chairs, sofas and chairs, dressers, miscellaneous tables, area rugs, sheets, blankets and pillow cases, curtains and draperies, towels and wash cloths, pots and pans, dishes, silverware and cooking utensils. The only requirement is that the goods must be usable, that is, appliances must work, chairs and tables must have four functional legs, dishes and glasses must be serviceable. Construction material, inoperable appliances, broken furniture, and gas and kerosene appliances are never accepted.
There are two sources from which the items are acquired:
1. The primary source is the community. Through newspaper articles, television, and word of mouth, people learn of the Storehouse's ministry and turn over their old household goods for reuse. Most of these donations are picked up on Saturday mornings by volunteers from the church in charge for the month. Other donations are brought in by the donor during the week when the Storehouse is open. Thus, not only does this ministry make productive use of reusable household goods, but it is a green operation, delaying the time these items are consigned to the dump until the end of their useful life.
2. Some smaller items that are not donated in sufficient quantity are purchased. Every client receives a fresh, new pillow for each family member. Other items typically purchased are bed frames, heaters, fans, towels, silverware, can openers, and cookware. Some of these items are purchased from local businesses at cost.
Although the Storehouse does not require much in the way of operating money to perform its ministry, there are expenses. In addition to paying for the items mentioned above, cash donations from churches, individuals, sales, etc. are also used for the rent, utilities, insurance, and other basic necessities to operate the ministry. (Most of our grants are restricted to the purchase of items for the clients.) These operational expenses amount to only about 9.3% of the resources used in 2019.
Most of the client families served by Ecumenical Storehouse live in Anderson County (60% in 2019), but clients also come from Roane, Campbell, Morgan, Scott, and other nearby counties. In the past few years, clients from twelve additional counties from Hamilton to Sullivan have been assisted. Many of the clients are from among the vast number of Appalachian poor in the area. Other clients have generally been able to make it on their own, but a house fire or storm has destroyed everything. Still others are abused women, sent for assistance in establishing a new home. All are in need, and they have nowhere else to turn for the service the Storehouse provides.
The Ecumenical Storehouse provides its services only by referral from recognized area support agencies, such as Departments of Human Services; Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties (ADFAC); Mid-East Community Action Agency (MECAA) of Roane County; Anderson County Community Action Agency (ACCAA); Ridgeview (Psychiatric) Hospital in Oak Ridge, Harriman, and LaFollette; Department of Children's Services; Campbell County Health Department; Dayspring Family Health Center; and Trinity Out-Reach Center of Hope (TORCH). These organizations were the top in referring clients to the Storehouse in 2019; they accounted for about 50% of all referrals.
Each client must bring a written referral from such an organization signed by an official, who has personal knowledge that the client is in need of the Storehouse's resources. The Storehouse initiates a Client Service Record and establishes a "needs" list for the client, which is good for six months. Subsequent referrals to the Storehouse are limited to emergency situations, such as fire, tornado, flood, or submission by a caseworker, or must be approved by the Storehouse President or designee prior to continued service.