Key Peninsula’s ‘Angels’ –– making a difference

Sara Thompson The Angel Guild, in Key Center. Photo by Sara Thompson, KP News

Nearly four decades ago Angels arrived on the Key Peninsula. They werent called Angels at first; they were simply seven women responding to a call. In 1972 a nurse, Jean Broadsack, had started a small health clinic located in the Longbranch Church. She asked them to provide help to people in need. Working out of the church basement, they collected and distributed used clothing.

In 1978, as the health clinic grew, Broadsack asked those women to form an auxiliary to support the clinic. Sisters Marge Radonich and Shirley Olson, recalling that their father called their mother his angel, suggested a name for the auxiliary. The Angel Guild was born. One year later, in 1979, they presented their first check to the clinic for $1,000. Between then and 1986, when they became an entity separate from the clinic, they raised more than $12,000.

What followed is truly inspiring. The Angel Guild, now an organization of about 60 dedicated women, has raised well over half a million dollars to support worthy causes on the Key Peninsula.

There have been a number of location changes –– from the Longbranch Church they moved to a small building in Home for a year. When they lost that site, they stored clothes in a basement until they found a new location in Key Center where Sunnycrest Nursery is today. In 1983, they moved again into the KC Corral. In 2005 they made their final move, this time just next door.

The operation of a thrift shop is no small feat. With a core of volunteers and one paid coordinator the Angel Guild is truly a machine. “Carla Parkhurst, our coordinator, is the heart of the Angel Guild,” said Dianna Home, vice-president. “She makes our wheels run.”

In addition to having at least two clerks and a float to help customers in the store at all times, there is enormous behind-the-scene work to be done. Donations must be sorted, cleaned and priced. Shelves must be stocked. It can be a physically demanding job, they said. Department heads focus on specific areas including toys, books, childrens books, arts/crafts/fabrics, linens, Christmas and jewelry to be sure they are priced and organized appropriately.

Members are rightfully proud of the store. “Ours is the cleanest, most pleasant thrift shop I know,” said Joyce Salatino, second vice-president and volunteer. “And we smell good,” added Home.

Donations are received Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the donation shed behind the shop in Key Center.

“We strive to have quality items and appreciate it if donations are shelf-ready,” said Pat Kunzl, treasurer. “We dont have laundry facilities. And please, if you love your Angels, do take the donations to the area in the back of the shop. It is difficult to carry donations from our front door to the donation shed.”

Board members commented that they have many regulars who arrive first thing on Tuesday to see what new items have been added to the shelves. They strive to keep essential items –– clothing, household items and linens –– very affordable. Vouchers for essentials are available at the food bank and at Childrens Home Society.

Other items are priced at what might be considered more of a “market rate” to raise the money they then distribute through their grants. If the guild receives a donation with a value that exceeds what they can sell it for at the store, they sell it on eBay.

Grants are awarded each month based on earnings. Awards are made only to organizations (not individuals) and are limited those serving the Key Peninsula community. Anyone interested in applying can visit the shop to get a description of criteria and directions.

Requests received by the end of each month are considered for the following month. A committee meets to review and make recommendations, and the entire guild body then votes at the general meeting. They welcome all requests, large and small.

The money raised each year has steadily grown. From that first $1000 in 1979, the Angel Guild raised $31,000 in 1998, then $46,000 in 2003 and $63,000 in 2010. Last year brought the largest total yet, with $104,000.

The funds have supported many worth organizations, including our local schools, the library, the nonprofits serving our community and Peninsula Light Co. assistance program.

Phyllis Henry, longtime volunteer and board member, commented, “We have an environment of mutual respect. What we have accomplished is pretty remarkable, and I think it works because we are women.”

Angel Guild Basics Location: KC Corral in Key Center

Phone: 253 884-9333 Email: Store hours: T-Sat 9:30-3:30 Donations: M-Sat 9:30-3:30