AUSTIN — Life is Work, a West Side organization focusing on housing and workforce development for trans and gender nonconforming people of color, has opened a thrift store to help fund its work.
Solidarity Resale is located next to the Life Is Work Resource Center, 5465 W. Chicago Ave. and 5463 W. Chicago Ave., respectively.
The shop employs three to four people each day to manage the store at $15 an hour. All proceeds from clothing sales are donated directly to Life is Work, and all the proceeds go back into marketing, staffing and renting space for the organization, Zahara Bassett, founder and CEO of Life is Work, said.
She said the daily employees will be paired with mentors to work as cashiers, sales floor clerks and stockroom staff.
“We are looking at potentially opening up another position,” Bassett said. “We center ourselves around trans leadership, so we’re looking at the option for someone to come in and be trained in a managerial position.”
Aside from donating gently used clothing to the store, Bassett said the resource center is looking for donations to support its other work as well. Bassett wants to create a space where “people can come and feel safe on the West Side.”
“We’re looking for furniture, particularly office furniture,” she said. “We also need computers to run our computer literacy and financial literacy programs.”
Long term, Life Is Work will continue its existing affordable housing programs, in which applicants meet regularly with staff to “determine long and short term goals” for themselves, Bassett said. The program has helped more than 100 people find housing since 2017, when Life is Work opened.
“Our goal is to raise $1 million to sustain us for the next five years,” Bassett said. “We’re looking to bring on more trans staff. My goal is also to buy a building — where we can actually call it our home versus renting.”
Meantime, the small staff at Life is Work is always looking for volunteers.
“We are, of course, looking to expand [our paid staff], but we depend on the community to meet that goal. The community feeds into us, and we want to feed back into the community,” Bassett said. “We just want community support and for people to know we’re out here on the West Side.”
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