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By Gina Channell-Allen

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About this blog: I am President of Embarcadero Media's East Bay Division and the publisher of the Pleasanton Weekly, Dublin TriValley Views, San Ramon Express and Danville Express. As a 25-plus-year veteran of the media industry, I have experience...  (More)

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107 volunteers rally to create Holiday Shop in their leader's absence

Uploaded: Oct 30, 2013
Monda Wiseman has spent 17 years helping make the Discovery Shop in Pleasanton successful. Now the volunteers are helping her.

The American Cancer Society set up Discovery Shop resales stores over 40 years ago to raise funds for cancer research through the sale of quality, "gently used" donated merchandise. The stores resell donated clothing, accessories, jewelry, furniture, artwork, antiques, collectibles, and other household items. The Discovery Shop in Pleasanton actually has two stores, one for clothing and other items and one for furniture.

They also have sales and special events to raise money, including the annual Holiday Shop. The Holiday Shop, a tradition since Pleasanton's Discovery Shop was established in 1989, will open its doors Friday, Nov. 1. And for the first time in 17 years, Monda, the shops manager, won't be there. A personal situation called her out of town during the time when the Furniture Shop is being transformed into the Holiday Shop.

"This is one of the biggest events of the year and she's not going to be there," Carol Olson, a Discovery Shop volunteer, said. But the 107 volunteers are "rallying around her," and they are making it happen, Carol added.

Yes, 107 volunteers. I confirmed the number three times because I was impressed, and somewhat amazed. Having been involved with many non-profit boards and organizations, I can say that recruiting volunteers and keeping them engaged is difficult.

Sue Duke, who does the bookkeeping for the Pleasanton Discovery Shop and holds down the fort in Monda's absence, said, "The volunteers are our most important asset because none of this would happen without them. None of it."

According to Carol, the dedication and longevity of the volunteers might be in part because of Wiseman.

"I have been moved by her leadership running these two shops," Carol said. "I've never seen a person with the grace and tenacity that Monda has."

"She is an outstanding leader," Sue said of Monda. "You wouldn't know these people are volunteers because they are so dedicated."

According to Sue, many people volunteer because, "So many people have been touched by cancer. It's their way of doing something about it. It's something tangible they can do."

Carol said the number and different skill sets of the volunteers really makes a difference. The volunteers are "all doing their part," Carol said, saying someone will do electrical work while another will repair a table for sale. "And it all comes together like clockwork."

One of those dedicated volunteers is Joan Povlsen, who has been volunteering at the Discovery Shop since it opened in 1989. She and her husband, John, helped find the location for the first Discovery Shop. John has since passed away, but Joan continues to volunteer regularly and is now affectionately known as "Queen Joan." (Her name badge even says it!)

"Both of my parents died of cancer and I feel I'm doing my part," Joan said. "I really enjoy it.

She added that there are actually quite a few volunteers who have served more than 25 years.

"Most of our volunteers stay unless they move away," Joan said.

The Holiday Shop has all types of decorations, from themed trees and ornaments, figurines, table clothes and even a fireplace mantle.

"We have just about every holiday decoration you can think of," Sue said. And "everything is donated," Sue said.

The Holiday Shop at 1991 Santa Rita Road, Ste. L, Pleasanton, is open from Nov. 1 until after Christmas; hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The clothing store at 1989 Santa Rita Road, Ste. E, Pleasanton, is open Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

If you stop by either shop you might see Queen Joan. She is there often and is involved in many events, like the fashion show held Oct. 28 at the Pleasanton Senior Center. Joan was at the show, but didn't model – this time.

"Oh, I used to," she said, with a bit of a giggle, "but I don't anymore."


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