The Estes Park Nonprofit Resource Center (EPNRC) regularly shines a spotlight on nonprofits in the Estes Valley. There are 65 nonprofit members of EPNRC. The services they provide range from child care to defibrilators in police cars. This week, EPNRC talks to Susan Henshaw, Board President of the The Elizabeth Guild Thrift Shop.
The Guild was established in 1972 by Elizabeth Knutson and 46 other women as an auxilary gift shop for the hospital. The Guild is one of the oldest examples of a social enterprise in our town; a social enterprise applies commercial strategies to maximize profits for external shareholders (in this case, the hospital). Last year, the Guild raised $65,000 for the hospital and is on track to raise $1000,000 this year.
What is your organization working on now that addresses your mission?
More hiking boots, less high heels! We just hired a new manager, David Trabold, who is helping to make sure our inventory matches up with our shoppers want. We are moving toward a larger selection of home decor and repurposing items. We want to be a main player in retail in Estes Park. The more we sell, the more we can give to our local hospital.
How do you collaborate with other nonprofits?
Our organization was designed to collaborate. All our profits go towards medical improvements at Estes Park Health. We also donate needed items to Crossroads and The Quota Club Lending Closet. We save all of our pink clothes—pink toasters!—throughout the year for sale during Paint Estes Pink (a program of the Rooftop Rodeo and Estes Park Health Foundation). All the “pink money” goes to the Oncology Department at the hospital.
What is something your organization does this community might be surprised by?
The Elizabeth Guild gives scholarships to chosen applicants seeking further education in the medical field. Usually these are employees of the hospital but don’t have to be.
The Elizabeth Guild has organized the Holiday House at the Ridgeline Hotel (formerly the Holiday Inn) for the last 48 years. We save our highest quality donations of toys, jewelry, linens and more for this sale, which is our biggest fundraiser.
Why does this Town need your organization?
We are one of the few organizations that take in community service workers (people required by the courts to do service hours). Most of the people looking to fulfill these service hours are Estes Park residents.
Aside from unlimited funding, what is your magic wand wish for your nonprofit?
Visibility and Volunteers! We need a logo; if a local graphic designer would volunteer their services that would be great! We also need help getting the word out that the Guild is open (sometimes people confuse us with the other thrift store that just closed). And we need volunteers to help sort, cashier, price, and create displays. We would love a mannequin. Our team of volunteers is outstanding, but we need more.
If your organization was an article of clothing, what would it be?
A hard hat: hard working, serious-minded and determined to get the job done.
The Elizabeth Guild has bag sales every Friday through the end of May, $5 for a full paper bag. They are located in the little plaza in front of Performance Park, 443 Elkhorn Ave. @theelizabethguild on Facebook.