The Citizen Spotlight is a project I started with the Oklahoma Gazette. In each issue, we highlight a person in our community who stands out for their leadership, kindness, and good deeds. Read it on the Oklahoma Gazette website here.
Delisa Jones of Second Chances Thrift Store
To be in the presence of Delisa Jones is like standing near a beaming ray of sunshine. Her positivity is as radiating as her smile, and her generosity knows no bounds. When I walked into Second Chances Thrift Store, she was joyously handing a man a sack lunch and a bus pass, asking about his day and checking to see if he had everything he needed to get him through it. There are no strangers here. Every person who walked through the door was a friend, including me.
“We feed people six days a week. We provide a sack lunch and a hot meal each day. We also give them a bus pass,” Jones said.
“We have mini-size hygiene packs for outside-homeless and full-size hygiene packs for people coming out of prison or those who live in sober living houses. People who are inside-homeless can come in here and get stuff that will help them prepare meals. We have a rack that’s for providing clean clothes. On Thursday, we have a full dress-out day, which means they can change out their clothes, shoes, jackets and all that. If someone’s had an emergency, we’ll dress them then too. Then on Saturdays, we have a $10 filler bag, so everything you can fit for ten bucks.”
Delisa’s life didn’t always look this way, but the trials and tribulations she experienced brought her here. Her childhood was fraught with abuse, from human trafficking to homelessness, these experiences shaped her and led her to her calling.
“Second Chances is a re-entry ministry where we focus on people coming out of prison and homelessness and addiction. I do this because it’s also my life story,” Jones said. “I was an addict for 30 years. I was in prison for a total of 15 years, doing it three different times. I was sold as a child. So we deal with people who have experienced human trafficking, sex trafficking, domestic violence — anybody who’s just like me, people who struggle. Funny story, I used to have ads in the [Oklahoma] Gazette, but for a completely different kind of business. When I got out of prison 11 years ago, I just decided to get my life together and not be in the game. I’d been in the game my whole life. I was sold to the game, and it’s all I knew. I became my mother, the monster that she was — I became that. When you’re born into sickness like that, you just learn to master it so that you can survive. So when I got out of prison, I worked two jobs in restaurants and simultaneously went to business school, then got pregnant right away. I wanted to give my child a better life. I wanted to teach her about God and goodness, but I didn’t know anything about it. So one day, this lady I used to get mad at for sitting in my section because she’d take up my section on Saturdays with Bible study. One day, she’s like, ‘Hey, Lisa, do you want to learn about Jesus?’ That was on a Saturday. Monday I moved forward and started going to Bible study, then I got baptized and that was it.”
Jones credits her faith for leading her to open Second Chances Thrift Store, 2605 N. MacArthur Blvd.
“One day at church my pastor asked, ‘Who is wasting their giftedness?’ I was like, well, surely he’s talking to me. So I sold everything I owned and opened this shop. When I’d gotten out of prison I worked hard to have all the material things that I was used to — the watches, the Louis Vuittons, the BMW, all the good things. I thought, well, okay, I’m not serving at the capacity that I’m supposed to be. I’m thinking more about the lease and less about him. So I just sold everything and gave that game up. There’s my BMW,” Jones said as she pointed to a wall of clothes lining the thrift store wall. “These are my Louis Vuittons… All the luxury things I would surround myself with, sold. It’s been almost five years now.”
She initially opened the store as a resource for women getting out of prison but soon discovered the community needed far more, so now Jones serves anyone who needs her.
“We are fortunate to be able to serve a lot of people. We have a big community, we feed about 75 people a day, six days a week,” she said. “Then on Sundays, I go out and serve with Feed His Sheep. They’re amazing. They’ve been serving food to people out at the Dunlap Codding Building every Sunday for ten years.”
In her store Delisa employs the same people she serves, with the mission of truly giving people an opportunity to get back on their feet.
“Anyone that works here has either been homeless or is currently homeless,” Jones said. “My son Chris was panhandling. We brought him in, put him in a hotel. He comes in and works hard full-time. We ended up getting him an apartment, and now he and his family aren’t homeless. They’re all doing well. So that’s just who we hire, people that are just like me. I have not been homeless as an adult but as a child … I know what that feels like.”
The pantry is stocked with food and toiletries donated by churches, local businesses and others who support Doreen’s mission. Outside the store, you’ll find racks of clothing and other items outside the store for people to take things as they need. But there is always a need for resources of all kinds.
“We are fortunate to have some amazing donors from Memorial Road Church of Christ. One of our biggest needs is always bus passes. They’re expensive, but so many people need them. The busses are the only way they can get around, and with winter coming the need will grow.”
Second Chances Thrift Store provides an immense sense of joy and purpose to Delisa and her small team, and she has no plans of slowing down. She hopes to one day expand the space and be able to serve more people. For Thanksgiving, she is teaming up with Feed His Sheep Ministries to provide food and distribute 400 backpacks filled with toiletries, bus passes, flashlights, batteries, gift cards and more, hoping to spread joy and provide necessities this holiday season.
To learn more about Delisa’s mission and Second Chances Thrift Store or to donate, visit www.secondchancesthrift.org.