FARMINGTON — Jamie and William Gipson don’t want to be mistaken for heroes or survivors.
Yet, when life handed the couple a bag of lemons with seemingly little juice to squeeze out, they found another way to make lemonade, and something more.
Jamie, 36, and William, 39, who met in high school, don’t often reflect on the fact that he has a life-threatening nerve condition that could cause him to go into anaphylactic shock at any moment, nor the fact that she dealt with bouts of homelessness as a child.
They are too busy helping others after acquiring Neverland Finds Resale, 23023 Orchard Lake Road Oct. 1.
At the 2,000-square-foot facility, the couple often gives transients a warm meal, a blanket and the use of their bathrooms.
For others down on their luck, it’s a place where they can find clothes for family members in need, or even themselves, Jamie said.
For some local high school students, the shop, which sells everything from eclectic jewelry to toys and couches, is where they volunteer their time.
“It has been really great because the kids come from after school and volunteer and learn what it means to help people less fortunate,” Jamie said, “because through helping other people, it has helped them.”
She said some of the high school students have opened up about issues they are facing.
“We’ve had a couple come and tell us they were cutters, but they are going to get help now,” she said.
Some students share that they are bullied, something Jamie knows too well.
“My son had to start at a new school (his senior year) because he was bullied,” she said. “So the kids come here, and they all tell us the same thing: It is like a safe haven. So it is cool. Those are things we didn’t expect.”
The couple took over the store after Jamie stopped by the store to shop in June. After volunteering for a couple of weeks, Jamie learned that the store backs the nonprofit corporation Source of Universal Love, S.O.U.L., which serves people in need.
The couple, who moved to Farmington Hills several years ago, said they also donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities and I am My Brother’s Keeper Ministries, a homeless shelter in Detroit.
She said she found out the store could not stay solvent by September, and they decided to do something about it, taking over the store by Oct. 1.
“We never intended on owning a business like this,” she said. “So we sat down and talked about it, and with zero retail experience between the two of us decided to scrape together every penny we could.”
The couple sold off some of their own personal items to buy the business.
“We had two weeks to come up with the money,” she said. “It was a very busy two weeks, but for a very good cause.”
Ginger B. Wiechers, executive director of S.O.U.L., said it was challenging to find volunteers to work at the store, but the couple changed that.
“S.O.U.L. is still being blessed by them,” she said of the couple. “In addition, they are phenomenal people in terms of caring about the community and serving.”
Wiechers said she felt that Jamie and William’s values align with the nonprofit’s mission.
“It is just a feeling you get when you know something is right,” she said.
Jamie, who doesn’t even blink an eye at running the store for nearly 80 hours a week, with the help of her husband, who works in Wixom, said she is nothing special.
“I’m just a regular person doing what I think everybody should be doing,” she said.
Several years from now, she hopes, everyone in Farmington and Farmington Hills will know the store exists.
“That is our biggest issue: No one knows we are here, and hopefully we would have found everyone in Farmington and Farmington Hills who doesn’t have a place to live, a place to live,” she said.
William said that although needs are great, so is the concern for others.
“There is never a shortage of need, but there is also never a shortage of generosity,” he said. “We kind of see ourselves as that bridge between people who need and the people who have.”
The store always accepts donations and can be reached at (248) 678-2153.
For more information, go to https://www.facebook.com/NeverLandFindsResale.
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