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Deacon Cathy Kline says the greatest needs of the Thrift Shop Co-op are children’s clothing and medium-sized menswear. | Laura Austin Photo

Saint Michael’s Church opens Thrift Shop Co-op

News Review Writer

“We have extended our food ministry to include a Thrift Co-Op which consists of not just clothing, but household items,” says Cathy Kline, Deacon at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. “Sometimes we get things that are like walkers and and crutches and anything that is of need for the community for the low income, the homeless.” The co-op is open the same time as the food pantry: The fourth Tuesday of the month, Senior Box Day the second Monday of the month and every Wednesday from 10am until 1pm.

“We work in partnership with CAPK, Community Action Partnership of Kern County,” says Deacon Kline. “They run a Family Resource Center in town and we’ve opened the co-op because many times we get called and asked ‘Do you have baby clothes? Do you have shoes?’ People end up coming into town with literally the clothes on their back. People that have come into hard times or have had fires or whatever. That’s what our co-op is for. We do charge. We ask for a small donation. All our items are donated. However, the proceeds that come from the donations go right back into the food pantry. We’ve run the food pantry since 2016.”

Right now their greatest need is children’s clothing from sizes 4T and down. Plus they also need men’s clothing that are not extra large. They accept donations only during their open hours. Gently used clothing and household items are welcome, but they only accept large items (furniture) when they have a rummage sale.

“We’re part of Kern County, but we’re separated from Kern County. Bakersfield is where most of the resources are. It’s hard for people in Ridgecrest to be able to deal with either their homelessness or their
low income; there are no resources here. There really isn’t. We don’t have a shelter; we can’t find places for people to live.”

As a Deacon, Kline’s role is ministry. She explains, “ A priest is a shepherd of a church. They run the church. A Deacon is the person that takes the church out into the world. And so we do ministry work. I just got ordained in January of 2021. Although I have been called to do ministry for well over 20 years and I’ve been in Ridgecrest for over 38 years now.” She has been involved with St. Michael’s during her entire time in the region.

Her path to becoming a Deacon included enrolling at Cerro Coso when she was in her 50’s then enrolling in the School for Deacons in Fresno. She commuted weekly for the first year and then the pandemic hit. Her last year and a half were spent telecommuting and taking classes on Zoom. After the formal education she completed the required field work for a year by continuing her work on the Food Bank which she started in 2016.

Prior to the formal education, Deacon candidates must spend six months in discernment. “That project was the food pantry,” she tells us. “It allows you to discern that you are able to do ministries and this is what you really want to do. Because that’s what a Deacon does. A Deacon does ministries, we don’t run a church, we take the church out to the world.”

Deacon Kline also serves as the representative of her diocese for SJRAISE, San Joaquin Refugee and Immigration Support and Empowerment. As part of their outreach they visit all seven detention centers in California. “We recently have been overwhelmed because of both the situation in Afghanistan and in Ukraine. Our closest Detention Center is just down south from here in Adelanto. It’s it’s real close. It’s amazing how close it is.”

Through this organization she is involved in “Uncaged Art which comes from a children’s detention center in Texas. These were kids that were separated. They either showed up at the border without parents, or they showed up at the border with parents and couldn’t go into the detention center with the parents so they were separated and locked up. A Catholic priest started taking communion to these kids. A woman from the University of San Jose came out, on his request, to try to do something to help encourage these kids to get through their time. They did an art project; they painted and they made sculptures. And it is amazing. Now we take that project on the road.” The Food Pantry and Thrift Co-op serve the neediest among us. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough. “We need to send people to Bakersfield to get assistance. And that has to stop. We have to find some way to help people here. Just because we’re out in the middle of the desert (is no excuse), there should be some type of resources to help those who are in need. That’s why we’re here: to help those who need.”