IVEPer is helpful in a “helpful” kind of way

IVEP partner insight

A group of people posing for a photo with Santa Claus

My experience at Thrift at Woodland Crossing with IVEP in Elkhart, Indiana, began in August of 2022. I met Renny Limpias Calle from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. His polite manners and friendly smile served as my quick assessment of his sweet personality. As manager of the newest MCC thrift shop, I immediately knew Renny would be a great fit for our shop.

Our store is located in Elkhart where 26.6% of the city (14,000 people) are Hispanic. A large number of these neighbors speak very little English, if any at all. I knew Renny had been practicing his English back home in Bolivia and he was looking forward to being fully immersed with English speakers to increase his knowledge of conversational English. It is such a bonus for us to have a full-time volunteer to speak very well with our Spanish speaking customers.

Renny is an exceptional young man and learns languages and procedures quickly. It seems that in no time he was fully trained on the cash register interacting with customers in both languages and he is counting back change in both English and Spanish. And he continued to surprise me when we had a volunteer that recently arrived in the U.S. from Haiti who spoke only French. As I was about to say, “too bad no one here speaks French” Renny turned to her and greeted her in French! Okay, he also speaks some French?

Renny is helpful in a “helpful” kind of way, and by that I mean, he looks for ways to help, he looks for projects and he looks for ways he can best use his time. I was the recipient of a handwritten birthday card which had an elaborate script that he had designed. That was when I knew we now had an official store ‘sign maker!”

This discovery also led to Renny’s newest responsibility — designing the layout and computer design for Thrift at Woodland Crossing newsletters. He also enters data on volunteer hours and designs and prints certificates for annual celebrations.

Renny is mature and responsible, but he also has a fun side with a good sense of humor. He has very good people skills and is great with conversing with both customers and volunteers. Renny is self-driven, which is evident in the self-initiative it took to independently work on learning English while still living in Bolivia. Not only is Renny good for us, but I believe we at Thrift at Woodland Crossing are good for him. We have become a family and enjoy working together every day.

In I Timothy 4:12 it says “Let no one look down on your youth, but be an example and set a pattern for the believers in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.” Yes, this is our Renny. We’re so grateful to know him and work alongside him this year.