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Laguna Beach

 Volume 12, Issue 64  |  August 11, 2020


The Ginsbergs, the heart and soul of Second Chance Thrift Store, pass on the mantle 

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

As readers know, Stu News Laguna partnered with Net-Works Laguna Beach in the creation of “Laguna Cares Network,” a series featuring stories about those who bring care to the community. Together with Pastor Don Sciortino, we envision Laguna Cares Network as a site for relationship building and the sharing of resources with organizations that serve in our city. 

This is the fourth article in the series.

• • •

I have been driving past the Second Chance Thrift Store on Broadway Ave for over 20 years, oblivious to the real purpose behind this resale enterprise. The shop’s outreach, which spreads far beyond the City of Laguna Beach, has provided many people the opportunity for a second chance in life. It’s a sacred mission that began over two decades ago with Joanie and Larry Ginsberg. 

Twenty-one years ago in May, Joanie and Larry became the force behind Second Chance Thrift Store. During Joanie’s Bible Study Group at Calvary Church in Laguna, it was announced that the AIDS Foundation was giving up their lease on the property, and the church was taking it over. The property is owned by the Soroptimists LB, the focus of the last “Laguna Cares Network” article. 

Joanie’s mission

Joanie says, “I’d been looking for a mission for a long time. It was definitely God’s plan. I remember thinking – I will do this.”

During the past 21 years, the Ginsbergs have raised thousands of dollars above the shop’s operating costs to benefit causes the world over.

However, this wasn’t Joanie’s first experience with thrift stores. She went into social work out of college but it took a while to get established. She was working with Sheepfold for Battered and Abused Women in Orange County and said to them, “Have you ever thought about doing a thrift store?”

They found an old Goodwill store to house it, but then she had to convince the Sheepfold Board it was a worthwhile endeavor. Although skeptical, eventually, they signed the lease, and Sheepfold Resale Boutique was born. They turned a profit in the first month – $10,000. 

Joanie says, “After that, they wanted one on every corner.”

The Ginsbergs couple

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Joanie and Larry Ginsberg

For years, Joanie has manned the store, taking care of every aspect of the enterprise, except the finances. Larry and Joanie moved to Laguna from Costa Mesa in 1986. Larry acted as the bookkeeper, allowing his wife to be fully invested in the store and the town. “It’s been a team effort,” Joanie says.

Second Chance Thrift Store has only one paid assistant, and the rest are volunteers.

Second Chance outreach

Since Calvary Church took over the space in 1999, the church has gone through a few reincarnations. Calvary Church became Kingsfield Church and is now known as Calvary Chapel Foothill Ranch. Co-Pastor Aaron Hart says, “Calvary Chapel Foothill Ranch is the fourth in a long change in evolution. We do a lot of work on local, short term, and long-term missions. Through the Ginsbergs’ outreach and faith, they have touched Asia, Africa, and Mexico, not just in facilitating spiritual works, but in physical ways as well – for example, their efforts in Africa educating kids and their work with the orphanage in the Philippines.

“They both don’t just work with the communities ministering the love in Christ but in a practical way. They have very tangible effects. Joanie quietly works away day in and day out, and Laguna Beach has been very generous year after year in coming to the store.” 

Pastor Hart adds, “All the good work that has come through Second Chance is not in small part due to the Soroptomists leasing us that space.”

“The store has supported Hope for the Nations for many years,” says Joanie. “All the students are Muslim, and they built an orphanage and school just last year. It is for high school age, and now they’re building a Bible College.” The goal of Hope for the Nations is to assist and empower the global community to bring about change and opportunity for children and families affected by poverty, war, and trafficking.

The Ginsbergs inside

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Joanie and Larry with Pastor Aaron Hart inside the store

The Ginsbergs also pack containers with items they couldn’t use from the thrift shop and ship them to the orphanage in the Philippines. Joanie says, “It’s the ministry of our ministry. They send us pictures wearing their new clothes.” 

Pastor Hart says, “Second chance is like a church. Just as God gives people a second chance, it does as well. As pastor, I’ve seen up close multiple people who have been given a second chance through volunteerism at the store. Joanie and Larry have been personally invested in people’s lives, be it through sobriety or healing. 

“Joanie silently affects people. They get life input from her. Laguna Beach High School sends students for community service in order to graduate. Those who volunteered to work at the store learned to be responsible. She helped them go to summer camp and in many other ways – some go on to Bible College.”

A catalyst for giving back

Joanie tells the story of two volunteers in the store who were from the Philippines. One didn’t have children and was lamenting the situation. “I told her ‘you can have as many children as you want.’ She went back to the Philippines and began rescuing children off the streets. The facility was first licensed to have five, and it grew. She was instrumental in getting that started. She’s done an incredible job that translated worldwide to saving children from trafficking. And she adopted two boys herself.”

Giving back appears to be the cornerstone of the church and those involved with Second Chance.

Although not a volunteer at present, Dave Day, who is from Laguna and leads Growers First, has volunteered in the past. However, he is currently supported by the thrift store and will continue to be under the new leadership.

Growers First is an advocate for farmers in remote areas of the world. They utilize agriculture and education to create traceable transformation in the lives of poor farming families in remote regions. 

The Ginsbergs keys

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(L-R) Don and Karen Sciortino accept store keys from Joanie and Larry 

Over the last 15 years, this NGO, a (501(c)(3), has utilized agriculture, education, and community networking as tools to help improve the quality of life for impoverished farming families and empower them to become self-sustaining. Day says, “It has always been my intent to ‘give a hand up instead of a hand out.’”

Chris and Karen Williams, who lead Soul Surfing in Laguna Beach, have been supported by Second Chance in the past, though they are not currently. Their ministry is based in Laguna Beach.

“Angela Simon, a member of our church, is a missionary currently supported by the Thrift Store – she is based in Tokyo, Japan,” says Pastor Hart. “She works with a group called YWAM – Youth With a Mission.”

Always on the phone planning, evidently, Joanie has ideas constantly churning around in her head. “I like to do two things at once. It’s a sport.” She retired from full time at the store 10 years ago, but she’s been working two days a week. However, now she’ll completely retire. Joanie says, “My goal was to make it to my 80th birthday.”

Passing the mantle

Now Joanie and Larry are passing on the mantle of “second chance” to Don and Karen Sciortino of Net-Works Laguna, who will take over the store on April 1. 

Don describes his new endeavor as “retail with a purpose.” It will be renamed Treasures of Laguna with the mission of helping people in the city, and he will continue the partnership with the Soroptimists. Treasures of Laguna will also inherit some volunteers from Second Chance. 

Don says, “In addition to the resale aspect, we’ll sell jewelry made by the homeless, so they can beef up the manufacturing, and we’ll also feature works of arts from the Sawdust artists and local artisans.”

I’m certain all in the community wish Joanie and Larry well and thank them for their generous mission and ministry, near and far.

Stay tuned for the May edition of Laguna Cares Network which will highlight Treasures of Laguna.

For more information about Net-Work Laguna, go to www.lagunabeachnet-works.org.

 

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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