WabiSabi celebrates 10 years of serving the local community

WabiSabi, Moab’s nonprofit thrift store, will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this month. WabiSabi first opened its doors in June 2002 and has since grown, both in size and in community outreach projects, WabiSabi officials said this week.

“WabiSabi originated from a desire to create a thrift store that would serve as a community center for people to learn about other nonprofits and brainstorm about creative ways to make the world a better place,” WabiSabi Director Jeff Cohen said in a news release. “It was also intended to empower individuals to actively support their community by both donating goods and helping area non-profits through their purchases.”

Each month WabiSabi receives several thousand tons of materials at its two thrift stores, including clothing, books, furniture, building materials and other items donated by individuals and businesses in Moab. They are often leftovers from a yard sale or the castaways of a spring cleaning. The donations are sold to raise money for Moab-area nonprofits and community programs. To date, WabiSabi has given more than $225,000 to other nonprofits and community organizations, Cohen said.

Financial awards to WabiSabi Sponsored Nonprofit Partners – various nonprofit groups within the community – are distributed twice annually based on the number of votes each nonprofit receives. In 2011, WabiSabi distributed some $50,000 to those sponsored partners.

The money raised at the thrift stores is also used to fund several other community events and organizations through WabiSabi’s Make A Difference in Moab fund, which helps individuals develop innovative projects. The fund provides awards of up to $500 to projects that demonstrate ways to improve the environment, enhance local quality of life, or increase sustainability, WabiSabi officials said.

Recent awards have included the purchase of tom tom drums for the Grand County High School Concert Band, rechargeable batteries for calculators at the Grand County Middle School, diapers and food for the Family Support Center, musical equipment for Moab Taiko Dan, a Teen Guide in Training Program at Canyonlands Field Institute, the Moab Pride Festival, Grand County Hospices’ memorial garden and Desert Voice, a publication of local author’s writings by the Moab Poets and Writers.

Materials donated to WabiSabi also assist other nonprofits and community organizations directly, official said. In 2011, WabiSabi donated more than $10,000 of materials to 47 organizations, including Grand County Schools, churches, and local government departments. WabiSabi has also partnered with several organizations that serve people in need. Those organizations give vouchers to their clients, enabling them to purchase items at WabiSabi.

WabiSabi also engages in educational outreach for local nonprofit partners and offers free workshops to assist local nonprofits improve day-to-day operations. The group provides free community meals each winter and serves a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for the community.