By Laura Lambert
Faith and good works are well-rewarded, although, the good Lord might take his time, as Deacon Walter Doyle knows well.
Deacon Doyle and his wife, Kathleen, serve the Worcester community through Urban Missionaries of Our Lady of Hope, formerly known as the Refugee Apostolate. Their faith and good works are evident in “The Little Store” which is moving from its long-time Chandler Street location to 242 Canterbury St. in Worcester. The new thrift store is scheduled to open for business on Monday, Oct. 1.
Following five years of care-filled searches, fundraisers and dreams, their prayer for a more suitable home for “The Little Store” was answered in the form of the new Canterbury Street property. The well-maintained property is valued at more than $700,000, is easily accessible by bus and has more than 60 parking spaces. Purchased with the help of a long-time friend and benefactor, the 18,000-square-foot building offers ample space to house Deacon and Mrs. Doyle’s many and much-needed projects.
Rather than letting himself become overwhelmed by the task of advocating for the residents of Worcester county who seek his services, Deacon Doyle expressed his trust in God’s grace and blessings.
“The Lord keeps blessing good works,” he said. “As long as we do good, we will be blessed.”
The faith-filled couple offers an ever-growing collection of services, including their popular Christmas gift-giving program, thrift store and food pantry.
However, Deacon Doyle will admit that the potential for financial uncertainty and stress does exist for those who dedicate their lives to social justice.
“This is a faith ministry. We open our doors at 9 a.m. and have no idea what will happen that day,” he said. The Doyles have thus far found creative ways to find the bed, meal or clothes needed by clients.
Yet, Deacon and Mrs. Doyle have often recognized the need for a more stable facility. The Deacon was quick to emphasize the need for additional space, both for the store and for the annual Christmas gift drive.
“We’re out of space” on Chandler Street, he said. “We’re throwing stuff out because we don’t have enough space.”
“We need room to function at Christmas. Each year we have to go beg for a place (to sort and distribute the gifts). All that goes away now. This will relieve some of the physical burden of running both locations,” he said.
Running both the store and an additional warehouse at Christmastime also created added expenses for the Urban Missionaries since the second location had to be outfitted with computers, Internet and phone lines. They will now be able to conduct the Christmas gift sorting and distribution process from Canterbury Street.
As they move to their new Urban Missionaries home, they are also considering new ways of “solving the needs” of their customers.
They hope to build on their experimental loan program, which allows customers to pay for larger purchases over time.
“The people who need the store often don’t have the money for small purchases like $2.50 for a pair of shoes. So we’re trying to find other ways to help,” Deacon Doyle explained. “We’d like to start urban gardening and are looking at options for solar power. The new building also has classroom space where we could hold financial responsibility classes.”