Twice Blessed thrift shop at New Paltz Reformed Church temporarily closes due to flood damage

Volunteer staff of the Twice Blessed Thrift Shop in New Paltz left to right: Wendy Leone, Carmen Drake, Pat King, Jan Illingworth, Frank Burnham, Donna Ziegler and Barbara Lane. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Twice Blessed thrift shop at New Paltz Reformed Church has temporarily closed due to flooding damage, but they’ll be back and better than ever by May, says Wendy Leone, board member of Twice Blessed and a deacon at the Huguenot Street church. “We experienced a setback, but we’re considering this a rebirth opportunity for us to open back up and be something even better than we were; to take what we had and move forward with it. We really consider this more of a blessing in disguise than a tragedy.”

Restoration will include a combination of renovations and cleanup. “This is an opportunity to make any changes that we always wished for,” says Leone. “When Twice Blessed was originally established in 2005, the space it was given was very small. Since then, piece by piece, the shop has inherited additional space. Now we’re going to make it a more cohesive and functional place.”


The redesign will include new shelving to better display the merchandise, and a general rethinking of space will be done in terms of how the shop is organized, with all of its walls except the perimeter ones temporary. “Some walls will remain as they have been to stay true to the place we’ve always been,” Leone says, “but others will come down and be relocated.”

All the work happening in the shop, both its cleanup and renovations, is by volunteers, many of whom have been at the site daily since it closed helping to clear the space, discarding water-damaged items they’re unable to salvage and putting the few good things left in the limited storage available. Boy Scout Troop 172 even came by to help one recent Thursday evening to do a massive move of merchandise out of the shop, in preparation for mold or mildew remediation and for the renovation to come.

If there can be such a thing as a convenient time to have something like this happen, the timing between seasons at least means that the shop would be in transition now anyway, notes Leone, with winter items being removed and spring items taking their place.

Much of the salvaged winter merchandise was donated to other charitable organizations. Once the shop is renovated and ready to have its shelves stocked, donations of seasonal clothing and household items from the community will be welcome, but in the meantime, people should wait; there is insufficient storage space to add anything more at this time.

A small portion of the money raised through Twice Blessed pays for upkeep of the space, with the majority of funds earned reinvested in the community, helping to support local organizations that include Family of New Paltz, St. John Bosco Child & Family Services in Walden, Habitat for Humanity, area migrant workers and 90 Miles Off Broadway theater company and their children’s summer program. The loss of the shop permanently would have made a significant dent in the church’s ability to fund its mission of helping the community.

The shop was founded 13 years ago by Lulu Bouchard, whom Leone calls a “major driving force in recognizing the need in the community and making it happen.” Even now, Bouchard is one of the many volunteers at the church involved in the rebuilding process, she adds.

Getting Twice Blessed reopened is a priority right now at New Paltz Reformed Church, but they are still facing significant problems with the rest of the property due to the flooding. The nursery school on site, not being on the basement level that the shop is, wasn’t affected by the flooding directly but some of the future work to be done involving underground drainage pipes may mean that digging will be done in the playground area. Some of the problem with drainage is apparently related to tree roots, says Leone, but the remainder of the cause still has yet to be determined. The drain that goes from the building out through Dressel Field onto the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is partly owned by the village, which did try to clean out the drain at the edge of the trail, but that didn’t solve the issue.

Twice Blessed is expecting to re-open with a big grand opening celebration the first week of May, depending on how quickly renovations and repairs are done. Updates will be posted on Facebook.

The shop has functioned independently of the church in some ways, says Leone, “solving our own problems in terms of things like staffing, but right now we are really coming together with the church to support each other and kind of wrap our arms around each other.”

Once the shop reopens, she adds, “It will retain its original character but serve the community even better.”