For Bert Rugg, it was the long-awaited answer to his prayers.

It came in the form of a small building at the Norway/Paris Transfer Station.

Rugg, the founder and director of His Place Teen Center in Oxford, has been trying to set up a thrift shop to help benefit his organization.

“I’ve had the idea for a good five years or so,” he said. He has been looking for a location for the past two years.

The thrift shop will take over the building that once housed Ruby’s Gold Mine. That business accepted donated items and asked residents to donate money for items they took away. Slim contributions and the inability to acquire a nonprofit status forced Ruby’s Gold Mine to close Jan. 13.

Rugg will reopen the store under the name Alpha and Omega Thrift Shop. The building does not have electricity, heat or water. Rugg, who has worked in carpentry and done work on the Teen Center, plans to make renovations to the shop before opening it May 1.

The lease came about through two unanimous decisions. The first came on March 12, when Rugg cleared the thrift store idea with the Teen Center’s board of directors. The second came a week later, when the four members present at a meeting of the board of directors at Norway-Paris Solid Waste approved the request.

“They were looking for someone that was a nonprofit, and had insurance, and was working for a good cause,” Rugg said.

For a small fee, Rugg has now leased the building for three years.

“We thought it was a very good fit,” said Ray Garnett, president of the Norway-Paris Solid Waste board of directors. “Anything that does things for our kids we think will be a win-win thing.”

Many items brought to the transfer station are reusable, and, like Ruby’s before it, the Alpha and Omega Thrift Shop will rescue such items that would otherwise be destined for incineration. That reduces the tonnage of trash trucked off site, thus reducing the amount of money needed from the towns to pay for trash service. Profits from the sale of items at the thrift shop will benefit the Teen Center.

Rugg plans to add canopies to the 16- by 24-foot building and bring in a trailer to increase the amount of storage space available. He and fellow staff member Sam Maruca will operate the store, though they welcome volunteers. Rugg believes the store could help prepare kids for employment. The tentative hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

He is particularly interested in furniture donations, although he stresses that items must be cleared before they are dropped off. It will cost the shop extra to dispose of unwanted items.

His Place Teen Center operates out of a large building on Webber Brook Road in Oxford. The building was constructed in 2001, and Rugg continues to expand. He hopes to add a fitness room, ham radio room and full-size gymnasium. He is also looking for independent committees to start teen centers in Rumford and Bridgton.

Much of the organization’s income is derived from yard sales of items donated to the organization.

“We don’t just have our hands out looking for money,” Rugg said. “We’re willing to work for it.”

Rugg had used the center itself as a makeshift thrift shop last weekend, testing to see the feasibility of having a shop on site. On Friday, he, Maruca and teens Luke Woodman and Cherith Reyes were clearing the game room of the materials to allow the Friday night drop-in program to proceed.

Woodman has been coming to the center since he was 12, and participated in the mentoring program to help teens prepare for a career.

“They find out what we’re interested in and hook you up with the right people and send you in the right direction,” Woodman said.

More information on His Place Teen Center or the Alpha and Omega Thrift Shop is available by phoning Rugg at 515-3000.


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