STATEN ISLAND, NY — Hope Home Care (HHC), a licensed home-care agency in Dongan Hills founded by Jean Alexander, is hosting the Preloved Shop for its employees to honor them for keeping the agency afloat for 35 years and serving the Staten Island community.
“I wanted to make it an experience. That feeling of lack can be very heavy for a person. When you hear thrift, you think shabby, and I didn’t want the shop to represent that. I wanted it to be a place where you can come and feel ‘these things have been specially curated for me’,” said Jeri Alexander, curator of the Preloved Shop and HHC lead on contracts and credentialing.
HHC serves nearly 250 patients in the five boroughs, with 70% from Staten Island. They provide nursing services, home health aid services, physical therapy, occupational therapy and social work to seniors in the community.
Many HHC employees were impacted economically during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, so the Preloved Shop was born to help meet their needs. The grand opening of the store was this week, and nearly 30 in-house staff members donated pre-owned items, many new or like new, to the shop, and they are now on display in the HHC office on Dumont Avenue.
While the vision behind the Preloved Shop is to thank HHC employees for the service they have provided to the community, it also aims to make them feel special.
“People are graduating and have to go on interviews, so we got the business casual clothing over here on this rack. You can come here, get nice dress pants, a shirt and blazer, and put it together,” said Alexander on a recent visit to the store.
A physicians assistant for HHC was one of the first customers at the Preloved Shop, and she said she had not gotten anything nice for herself since the start of the pandemic, as she had to focus on taking care of her children and uncle. So the Preloved Shop gave her the opportunity to spend some time shopping with no attached cost.
Many employees rolled through the shop this week.
Lorena Moreira, a Bronx employee who has been with HHC for 18 years, selected two pairs of pants, a home decor item, two hats and a dress from the second-hand store. “HHC is the first agency I know to do something like this for the community,” she said.
Juana Guevara, also a Bronx employee who has been with with HHC for 18 years, grabbed a little bit of everything.
“At first I didn’t believe that it was free, and then I was just excited that it was,” Guevara said. “Financially, this is a huge help. My family will be happy with the things I grabbed.”
HHC was faced with staffing shortages amid the pandemic, and is now looking to expand its workforce. The organization offers a three-week program to train and certify home health aids, which is a growing need on Staten Island, according to Brent Alexander, vice president of HHC.
The training program, which has been halted since the start of COVID-19, is expected to restart around June.
While employees can walk in and experience the Preloved Shop at any time, there is hope that the shop will be open to the wider community in the future.
“There is always a need that can be filled,” said Jeri Alexander.