Neighbors of Park City

Christian Center of Park City: great finds beget great hearts

Raise your hand if you’ve left the CCPC Boutique feeling as if you’d just shopped at Target, loading your car with unnecessary but super cute items, like, for example: a laser-cut-paper Park City sign, a chic purple bag, a wrought-iron coat rack, and books – both vintage and new.

Now, nod your head if you’ve spent much less at the Boutique than at Target—and experienced much more joy about what you purchased. At times, I wonder who created that charming piece of Park City artwork, or who once read those books I happened upon after browsing the store’s shoe section. I also wonder—and wonder at—how this fantastic boutique gives back to the community while housing smile-inducing merchandise that we so-don’t-need but oh-so-must-have.

According to CCPC’s website, this lovely upscale boutique receives 1.7 million pounds of donated clothing and shoes each year, upcycling 780,000 of this million-plus weight. Additionally and significantly, 33% of CCPC’s programs are funded by the Boutique, The Loft, and Heber Valley Thrift.

“Entering into the Boutique is a dangerous venture,” quips Matt Melville, Director of Programs for CCPC, “I actually try not to go into the stores because I always find items!” I laugh in agreement while I daydream about my next outing to the Boutique, now wondering about these programs it helps fund. Little did I know CCPC operates a handful that not only help the community, but build it. 

CCPC’s Basic Needs Assistance program started out as an emergency assistance service for families and now encompasses all individuals in need of food and clothing or of help paying their rent, with priority given to vulnerable populations. A CCPC social worker will assess each applicant’s situation and might be able to offer financial assistance in the event of a hardship, like an eviction or unemployment.

CCPC also partners with Downstairs Park City, along with a few other Main Street hangouts, in hosting the Park City Santa Pub Crawl on the first Saturday in December. Every year, Parkites, Heber householders, and residents of local communities relish in this opportunity to dress up in festive holiday attire and can get their cover charge waived if they bring…you guessed it – a toy! All toys are collected by the CCPC truck and brought back to The Loft, which is located above…you guessed it…the Boutique! 

Despite my own recent trip to this “dangerous” Boutique, I decided to head to Heber Valley Thrift the other day, taking advantage of its “40% Off All Merchandise, All Day” deal. As I riffled through a used book, someone walked up to me and asked where I bought my purple bag. “At the CCPC Boutique for only $25!” I replied, smiling wide and proud of my purchase, knowing my money helped not only fight hunger but also a condition called “food insecurity”— which happens when there’s a consistent lack of food to meet basic needs, due to one’s economic situation. “Any doctor can assess food insecurity,” Matt explains, “Then can write a prescription for pickup of fresh produce at Summit Community Gardens. They’re working with us on our small pilot launch, called Food Pharmacy.”

Speaking of food, CCPC’s origins begin with its pantry, which started out in a small space next to Windy Ridge Café and currently sits right below The Loft, the Boutique, and CCPC’s counseling services in the same building. For many, “food bank” or “pantry” might conjure up images of canned goods, however, at both CCPC’s Park City and Heber locations, meat, eggs, bread, and fresh produce are available and free to the community. “Fruits and vegetables that have a short shelf life—but are still good—are offered, then everything is placed inside bins for hog farmers to pick up twice a week,” asserts Matt, pointing out that CCPC strives to be a zero-waste organization.

CCPC also runs a mobile food pantry, a program that meets people right where they live, usually at apartment complexes and mobile home parks. One might envision a small truck with a couple of tables set out, stacked with bins of food, where volunteers and seasonal workers wait, unsure about whether or not residents will come out to accept CCPC’s offerings. On the contrary, says Matt, “We have music, we have games! And if people don’t come out, we get the kids to spin a wheel for a prize, but only if they’ll call their parents to join in on the fun and grab their free grocery items.” He stresses that CCPC wants to bring down the barriers around the stigma of food banks by making these visits an enjoyable community event. From my own experience helping at the food bank at my sons’ elementary school in San Francisco, I witnessed this stigma in action, families noticeably uneasy, hesitant in seeking assistance out of fear that others would discover they live in poverty and, consequently, judge them for it

Lexie Clayburn, Take a Hike Photography // Coats for the CCPC winter coat drive

During the summer, the Mobile Food Pantry continues—and has grown from 17 events last year to 41 this year. In August, a program called Back 2 School Basics gives each participating child a $100 gift card to spend at Outlets Park City. “The kids get a backpack, binder, and other school supplies,” Matt enthuses, “As well as special discounts like no tax or 20% off. It’s such a great program, and it runs for two days!”

Last but never least, are CCPC’s counseling and wellness services, which are ongoing and provided free to the community. Coincidentally, on the day I bought my coat rack at the Boutique, I wandered up to the third floor, where the Counseling Center is located. At this point in my conversation with Matt, my mind was blown. Mental health awareness, food assistance, food pantries, year-round outreach (Back 2 School Basics, Operation Hope, Easter Basket Outreach, Latino Arts Festival)…wow, am I feeling smitten with my $30 coat rack. And, did I mention the antique shelves and children’s books I found at Heber Valley Thrift?

Support Operation Hope by making a donation on CCPC’s website, or…go shopping at the Boutique, The Loft, or Heber Valley Thrift. I’ll see all of you great-hearts there! 

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