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Op for Change - Part 2

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The circle of generosity

When Mel Burgess opened Op for Change in Manly on Sydney’s Northern Beaches three years ago, she was inspired to do so by the vision to take the humble building blocks of a traditional Op Shop and transform the concept into something much bigger than a place to resell used goods.

Op for Change is Mel’s dream successfully realised. in part 2 of this Helping Hands documentary, we see that the popular social enterprise has become a staple in the Northern Beaches landscape, providing plentiful opportunities in and for the local community to be a part of the revolving doorway of generosity that the shop facilitates.

Mel and a committed group of Northern Beaches volunteers give their time and talents to sort, display and sell items donated by the local community to Op for Change, giving goods a second life that would otherwise end up in landfill. The shop has become the go-to place to grab a quality bargain for members of the community enduring financial hardship, and then also donates 100% of its profit to charities supporting the local community in other ways, completing the circle of generosity.

“This has just been the most beautiful part of the shop, this absolute circle of generosity, and that goes from the love that we’ve had from our local community and the support that we’ve had in terms of the donations ... and then it’s flowing back out into us reaching out, or having organisations reach out that are like-minded ... Every charity or social enterprise that we partner with has been hand-picked because of what they do, what they support.”

Shoppers at Op for Change are aware of the ongoing impact the shop has and are enveloped into the wider purpose of giving back to the community by shopping here. Volunteer, Gini Scott, absolutely loves this.

“It’s about giving back for me ... We try to greet everyone with a smile and most people that are coming in here are up for a little bit of a chat, which is lovely, so we get to know our customers really well ... The community feeling that the shop brings is really special.”

Mel says the way the locals have embraced Op for Change, and see themselves as part of the circle of generosity, blows her mind. Without dedicated support from the local community since the shop opened in 2022, Op for Change would not have been able to donate more than $50,000 to five local charities, who are all appreciative of the significant support.

Last year alone, Op for Change donated $10,000 to LocalKind Northern Beaches; a local charity that supports people who are vulnerable or at risk, providing support for people experiencing homelessness, domestic and family violence, as well as programs for youth, migrant and refugee assistance.

"That money goes a long way for a charity like ours. For example, we’re able to provide a support worker for six months, one day a week, and that has a great impact. That support person could support several people on any given day,” says Daniel Peterson, from LocalKind Northern Beaches.

Nellie Martin and Izzy Shilling from Avalon Youth Hub explain that the donations from Op for Change enables them to provide free counselling, support and case management for young people aged 12-24.

Narelle Hand from the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter is also appreciative of Mel’s drive to support the local community. The funds donated by Op for Change make a tangible difference to women at risk of homelessness or experiencing homelessness.

“Amazingly, (Op for Change) were able to raise $10,000 for our service, and that money has gone to supporting our wellbeing program for the women that come through our service.”

MoWaNa Safe Places Inc. is a local charity that provides a no-judgement space for anyone with mental health issues. Melani Kypri is grateful for the contributions from Op for Change.

“Op for Change is donating money to us from this year from their proceeds here from the shop. That’ll give us the ability to run workshops over the next year for people in the community that are vulnerable. We rely on local people for support financially, otherwise we can’t run these programs … It’s community for community.”

Community for community is a fitting image of the ever-widening circle of generosity at the heart of Op for Change.

 

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