CHARLESTON, Ill. — Every week at Standing Stone Community Center, there will always be another story that strengthens Dawn Thomson’s resolve.
The executive director and founder of the nonprofit Christian ministry said there is not one week that goes by where she is not given another reason to move forward with her mission and the mission of Standing Stone: to fill unmet needs through a multifaceted Christ-centered outreach.
Recently, it was a grandmother who was getting clothes for her grandson whom she is raising. Before that it was a teenage girl getting a $5 prom dress “when they couldn’t have bought a pair of shoes most places,” Thompson said.
“Some of the stories you hear, you could not make it up,” she said.
These stories and more importantly the people behind those stories cement Thomson’s resolve as she is either reorganizing clothes or ringing up the purchases of clients who come in on a day-to-day basis.
Now, five years after it opened, Standing Stone Community Center has served roughly 30,000 people, offering clothing and other items to those in need since its inception.
Thomson said having the chance to continue her work at the center is simply a “God thing.”
“He opened doors here,” Thomson said.
Standing Stone, which resides in a former warehouse, is filled to the brim with clothes, jewelry, movies and books reaching to every corner in the store.
It wasn’t long after Standing Stone’s start that this was the case.
“If you are doing things even halfway right, the first thing that is going to happen is you’re going to run out of room,” Thomson said. “We ran out of room a long time ago.”
Among the scores of clothes atop a shelf behind the counter in Standing Stone sits a movie that inspired Thomson’s mission.
Years before, Thomson, who at the time was out of work, was watching “The Touch” with her friend on a bitterly cold winter evening.
The film based on a true story, following a Florida woman who fell on hard times and found helping hands in a ministry.
Thomson’s entire career up until that point had been in agriculture, but after she watched that movie she saw the need to do something else.
“I took (my friend home) and with tears running down my face, I said ‘This is what I need to be doing,'” she said. “All of my careers was in agriculture, and God to used that movie to say ‘You are going to be doing something different.'”
Soon after, she drew up plans for the center.
Since its start, Standing Stone has expanded with the addition of the Carpenter’s Table where they offer furniture and serve meals.
Commemorating the center’s five years, Thomson said the center is doing special events for the month of June.
Thomson said she plans to continue her work at Standing Stone as long as it is needed, which will likely be for a long time. Thomson said it would be her end goal to be able to shut the doors.
“I would love to work myself out of a job,” she said. “But, I think we will always have, unfortunately, people in need.”
Source: Mattoon Journal Gazette & (Charleston) Times-Courier, http://bit.ly/2sZg7kr
Information from: Mattoon Journal-Gazette, http://www.jg-tc.com
This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the Mattoon Journal Gazette & (Charleston) Times-Courier