Q&A: Reno Non-Profit’s President-Elect is ‘Slinging Hash’ with Seniors to Support Community


April 8, 2024


Business, Features


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(RENO, Nev.) —The Assistance League Reno-Sparks (ALRS) funds projects through their thrift store, affectionately known as the ‘Neiman Marcus of thrift stores’ by locals. This popular store offers a wide selection of reusable items. Proceeds from sales benefit community schools, veterans, and seniors. ALRS Vice President Heidi Jackson spoke to The Click about what the organization means to the community and volunteers. In June, Jackson will take over as president of the Assistance League Reno-Sparks and continue to bring programs to the community.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Click: Can you give an overview of the Assistance League Reno-Sparks?

Jackson: We have 388 members, all volunteers. Nobody gets paid. We have 12 philanthropic programs that we support. We serve children, veterans, and seniors. We’re a working organization. It’s not just a charity organization. We work to get the money together to fund these programs. Our biggest fundraising endeavor, in revenue, is our thrift shop. It’s all donated items from the community. The community donates their stuff, we sell it to the community, and the money goes back to the community. It’s an active role. I’m VP right now to be president, but I’ll have an apron on a couple of days a week working in the thrift store. I call it slinging hash. We’re busy out there. I think our average age is like 72, you know? But I’ll tell you these women can sling some hash!

The Click: How did you discover the Assistance League, and what inspired you to join?

I was shopping in the thrift store, and I noticed the volunteers enjoying themselves and asked to participate. I had recently retired and wanted something to do, and I became a member and volunteer in 2019.

The Click: Tell me more about some of the ALRS community programs.

Our biggest program is Operation School Bell. It’s a huge operation to clothe 3000 kids. We have several different things that we do for veterans [including] a baby shower for the female veterans. We do Stand Down (that’s the VA for homeless veterans). We give them clothes and essentials and these rolling carts so they can put their things in. Our first program going back [to 1986] is called Senior Samplers. It’s a place for senior crafts, to make their stuff, and sell it. They’ll get 100% of whatever they price it at. We basically provide the place to sell it and the manpower to sell it. We do all the advertising. It was meant to help supplement Social Security, and we have a food pantry for the seniors as part of our senior program.

What do you like most about volunteering for this amazing organization?

The people. I enjoy meeting with and talking to people, not just the volunteers but also the people in the community we help as an organization. We’ve never done this before, but now we play Bingo. We went through all the gaming licenses and all, but it’s not for fundraising; it’s just for our members to come in here, get together, and win some money. All the money that’s collected on the bingo cards goes right back to the winners, but it’s just something fun.

How can a community member join the ALRS?

The best thing to do is probably go out to our website, fill out the application online, and go through an orientation (a two-day orientation here). There is a cost to be a member of $75 per year.

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