Volunteer, 85, Enjoys Helping Others at Thrift Store

Her favorite moment in 12 years there was when a bride needed an outfit.

Helen Breitenbach, 85, a volunteer for the More Pennies From Heaven thrift store for more than 12 years, is being honored by Plateau Outreach Ministries, its monthly newsletter says.


Breitenbach deep roots with the POM organization.  As someone who feels strongly about volunteering in the community, she jumped right in with the thrift store after coming to Enumclaw 14 years ago. After moving from the first store location on the east side of town to the small store front on Cole Street, then to the location across the street from the Post Office and now, lastly, to the new building – Breitenbach has enjoyed watching the thrift store grow.


She feels the new facility allows easy access for everyone and is very visible in the city. She also believes that it has helped having the medical clinic next door as people drop in to shop when they visit the clinic.


Breitenbach is a Tuesday volunteer who is responsible for cashiering and pricing doilies and delicate items. With her experience as a grocery checker for Safeway for 20 years, she feels right at home working at the front counter. She admits to being hesitant about the new debit card machine and even considered working in the back of the store instead of learning how to run it.


But after one day of sorting, she knew her heart belonged helping people with their purchases.  So, she faced her fears and learned the debit machine. Much to her surprise, it was easier than she expected. Breitenbach has come a long way, recalling the first thrift store years before a real cash-register when only slips of paper were used as receipts.


Breitenbach has had several memorable experiences in the store but one particular day was unforgettable for her. A woman came in looking for a wedding dress. She couldn’t afford a new one but undoubtedly wanted to be beautiful on her special day. Breitenbach and the other volunteers helped outfit her with a gown, artificial flowers, and everything they thought she needed to feel like a bride. The woman was so touched by their kindness, she cried, which in turn made the entire group cry. Breitenbach has also enjoyed helping many jobless people shop for job-interview outfits. She feels helping others is very heartwarming.

When Breitenbach retires from the thrift store (which she assures won’t be any time soon), she says she’d like a nice recliner in the back where she can still be a part of her “Tuesday Group” as she cherishes the friendships that have been developed over the years. Until then she will continue running the thrift store cash register on Tuesdays and spending time with her family of three sons, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Stacie Kennard February 16, 2012 at 12:10 AM
My name is Stacie Kennard and I am the Volunteer Coordinator at POM. I also volunteer here every Friday morning between the hours of 10am-1pm. I have been blessed with Helen now working with me on Fridays. She is such a joy to be around and such a delightful woman. A very pretty smile that shines as bright as the sun.


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