I first heard about this dream about a year and a half ago while walking out of a volleyball game with my friend Elizabeth. (Our sons dominated the volleyball courts together on their high school team.) She said she was thinking about opening a thrift store, but not just any thrift store. Her vision was to partner with local churches, schools and para-church organizations with the goal of generating funding for their ministries through her thrift store. Partner organizations would supply volunteer labor and donated merchandise, and then they would receive a share of the profits based on their contributions. I thought it was a brilliant idea.
It wasn’t my dream, but I became rather invested in it as I walked with Elizabeth (metaphorically and literally) through her dreaming, praying, planning, frustrations and doubt, re-planning, did I mention praying?, and working, lots of working, to realize the dream. Easy for me to say; I listened, encouraged and prayed. She took all the risk and did all the work.
Community Threads is open for business. The dream is a reality. Three partner organizations have magnificently supplied rosters of volunteers and truckloads of merchandise. After a pre-opening time of prayer and dedication, the store was buzzing with shoppers browsing and buying. Cheerful volunteers were ready to help. It was a big day. What had started as a dream is now reality.
There is much more I could say about this business model (social entrepreneurship) and the store iteslf, but that is a subject for another day. For now, I am thinking about how Elizabeth’s accomplishment encourages me in two ways.
Sometimes, in my business-as-usual living, I forget to dream or I talk myself out of a dream before even allowing it to take shape. I think I will spend some time dreaming and articulating my dreams. Maybe I will be moved to pursue one or two; maybe not. One thing is certain, I will never realize a dream without first defining it.
Once defined, the process of following a dream is not as romantic as Hollywood or inspirational quotes might suggest. Based on my observations, it requires faith in the validity of one’s dream, a lot of prayer and spiritual guidance, and plenty of plain old hard work. As Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Do you have a dream? Have you articulated it recently? Are you willing to put on your overalls and work? I am asking myself these questions. How about you?
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 KJV