Trena began volunteering as a child with her sisters. They volunteered at a nursing home in Austin where they also visited with their great, great grandmother. They played music for the residents and were general little helpers, moving chairs and doing things the home needed help with. Trena has a passion for helping the elderly through those childhood experiences. Through the years Trena has continued volunteering while raising her son and working full time, but after a move to Jarrell and a difficult divorce, she was looking for a new opportunity and a new way to give back. She stumbled onto The Caring Place hoping that she could work with clients or seniors needing assistance, but since she worked Monday through Friday and was also in school, that was not an option. That’s when she discovered the thrift stores at The Caring Place utilized volunteers on Saturdays.
Our thrift stores always attract volunteers that love to shop, but that wasn’t exactly the situation with Trena. After Trena’s mentioned divorce, she allowed the individual to stay in her home until they were able to move out. That kindness was unfortunately returned with the taking of nearly every item in her home right down to the rod the toilet paper was placed on. The only room not touched was thankfully her son’s. When Trena came to The Caring Place as a store volunteer, she had just begun a new life in Jarrell, ready to make new, positive memories. She had a few things that family and friends had given her, but was still living a fairly minimalist lifestyle. As she volunteered as a pricer in the pricing warehouse, she realized The Caring Place could help her make her house a home again. Trena was on a tight budget as her previous relationship had also destroyed her credit, but through the years has replaced items to her taste. Dishes, housewares, decor, and clothing were all purchased at The Caring Place at affordable prices. “Getting things here, even things like clothes for my son, being able to get things at a good price helped me get back on my feet. I have everything that I need.” She laughs as she adds, “And I still manage to get a lot of things that I want.” Trena says The Caring Place thrift stores helped her rebuild.
Her son, who is now grown with a child of his own, teases her and says, “You shop there so much. Don’t let me find out you own The Caring Place!” Trena says that when she sees him after she’s been volunteering, he’ll say, “Hello Miss Caring Place. What did you buy today?” These days Trena often finds quality toys for her new grandson. She’s excited that she can buy him such nice things on a budget.
Trena also tells friends about The Caring Place. Whether they need a helping hand, food, or just affordable items, Trena knows The Caring Place can help. She knows firsthand the benefits of affordable shopping and has seen The Caring Place help people she knows as well.
Trena has been volunteering for about four years now. “With all the hardships in the last few years, The Caring Place is the best place to come to. I love it here.” With laughter and a little sadness, Trena fondly remembers volunteers who passed away or moved during the pandemic. She says, “When we all came back, I was looking to see who was here. I had to make new friends.” Trena still keeps up with her pricing friends who have moved to Indiana and thankfully making friends is not hard at The Caring Place.
When it comes to volunteering Trena shares, “This is a great place to work with people who have big hearts. Everyone is friendly. Everyone. It’s a beautiful atmosphere. And when you aren't here and you return, people will say I’ve been missing you!” That’s a statement people don’t always say in the workplace according to Trena, so it feels special at The Caring Place. “Its name says it all. The Caring Place. I am glad to be here.”