FeaturesTop Stories

Sweet Charity

Resale shop helps support Advent House, a comfort care home for the terminally ill

By Christine Green

Running Sweet Charity are Meg Meg Sarnoff, left, and Nancy Loughran, right. In the middle is Vicki Deady, Advent House development coordinator.
Running Sweet Charity are Meg Meg Sarnoff, left, and Nancy Loughran, right. In the middle is Vicki Deady, Advent House development coordinator.

Every time Meg Sarnoff walks into Sweet Charity Resale Boutique & Shop in Fairport, she thinks, “What am I going to find today that I didn’t know I needed, but now I can’t live without?”

The shop is filled with everything from beautiful antique and retro furniture and home decor to vintage jewelry and unique artwork. There is always a little something tempting Sarnoff who, as co-manager along with Nancy Loughran, is there daily.

Sweet Charity opened in December of 2017 to provide a source of funding to support Advent House, a two-bedroom comfort care home for the terminally ill in Fairport.

Advent House is an outreach ministry of Perinton Ecumenical Ministries and residents pay absolutely no fees.

The home also does not receive any insurance funds.

Thoroughly trained volunteers provide services, while money for the upkeep of the home comes from PEM churches, private donations, fundraisers and from Sweet Charity profits.

“When a family is going through something like this, they don’t need to think about how they are going to pay for it. It’s all taken care of. We just want everyone to feel at home,” said Sarnoff.

Advent House first opened in 1987, and in 1995, it moved to its current location. As anyone who has moved homes knows, packing and unpacking is a great time to get rid of items that one no longer needs.

This was the case for Advent House. It hosted its first garage sale that year. The garage sale grew in size every year as the public donated items to sell. For a time, it held the sale at the local VFW hall until it was moved again to St. John of Rochester until 2017. Then, Sweet Charity opened its doors at 650 Whitney Road in Fairport.

Vicki Deady, Advent House development coordinator, said sales have been solid.

“They exceeded our expectations in the first year, and they’ve certainly exceeded what we anticipated with the annual garage sale. In the beginning, there was a huge outpouring of items and that has not abated. We are so incredibly blessed to live in this community because the folks are so generous and have been so supportive,” she said.

Sweet Charity accepts high-quality, best-of-condition home and personal goods such as furniture, lighting, jewelry, and artwork. The shop posted a full list of items it accepts at theadventhouse.org.

If the organization cannot take a donation, it refers people to other local charitable resale shops such as the Tool Thrift Shop, The Corner Bookstore, or Crafts Bits and Pieces.

“We’re trying to be very good stewards of what we get and keep things out of the landfill. But we also try and benefit the community. If somebody is donating to us, they really want their money to stay in their community,” said Loughran.

Volunteer-driven organization

Sweet Charity, as well as Advent House, depends heavily on the time and skills of volunteers. About 80 volunteers support the shop. They help organize, work the register, clean, sort, and take on any other task typical of a retail store.

“We try to make volunteering here very easy for folks,” noted Loughran, who developed an online calendar system to make volunteering simple for anyone wishing to help out at the store. “We recognize that our volunteers are probably volunteering for many different organizations, and we love that they’re giving some of their time to us. So, we try and make it easy. We don’t have any trouble filling the slots even with the ‘snow birds’ or those who might go to a cottage for the summer.”

It isn’t just the volunteer staff that is loyal to Sweet Charity and its mission of supporting Advent House. The customers come back time and time again as well.

Sarnoff said the store is a friendly place that people enjoy coming to not only to shop, but to visit with the staff and with each other. “We have customers that come at least once a week and some that come more often than that,” she said as she waved to some repeat customers browsing the new goods on the floor.

Deady remarked that the success of Sweet Charity is due in large part to the dedication and “super powers” of managers Loughran and Sarnoff. “One of them is this beautiful store, but they also have relationships with their customers. This is like “Cheers”; it just creates this atmosphere and people are happy to be here. It feels like a home to customers, like a place where they want to come hang out for an hour. We’re very, very grateful to them for that.”

Sweet Charity also offers pick-up and delivery service two days a week for those unsure of how to transport large and bulky pieces of furniture or decor. “We have not had a day since we started offering this where we haven’t picked up or delivered something on those two days a week that we offer it,” said Loughran.

It’s clear that Sarnoff, Loughran, the Sweet Charity staff, and their customers have a special place in their hearts for the work they do and for Advent House.

“At this point in life, I’ve decided I’m only going to do things that bring me joy and make me happy,” said Sarnoff. “I love coming here every day. I love my volunteers, I love my coworkers, and I love the customers.”

You Can Help

For information about volunteering with Sweet Charity or Advent House, visit theadventhouse.org.

To shop or donate items to Sweet Charity, customers can visit the shop at 650 Whitney Road, Fairport, call 585-364-0317 or email sweetcharityfairport@gmail.com.

To see regular photo updates from the store, visit the Sweet Charity Facebook and Instagram profiles.