WORKING WITH GRACE: Members of the Grace Lutheran Church formed the Upper Room Ministry 10 years ago to raise funds for those in need through a consignment store on the second floor of the church. Still working hard are, from left, Jane Frost, founder Rosetta Martin, Delta Harrison, Ella Rae Roden and Patsy Postier.
The Upper Room Ministry at Grace Lutheran Church located at Fifth Place and Lewis Avenue in Tulsa, has been providing much-needed help to the local community as well as outside the Tulsa area for 10 years. According to board member Rosita Martin, “In 1999, a small group of women here at the church and I decided to get together and organize a year-round rummage sale. We collected all sorts of items, clothes, shoes, dishes, toys, books and more and opened up a shop on the second floor of our church building.”
The devoted team of women ran the ministry for two years. As the ministry grew and became more successful, more volunteers joined in to help. Consequently, a board was formed and the ministry was given the name The Upper Room (because it was an upper room in the church).
Martin says, “For the first two years, we didn’t keep detailed records of the amount of money we made selling the donated items. We brought in money and turned around and gave it all away to help people in need. Since 2001 we have kept records and, through our sales at The Upper Room, we’ve been able to donate over $100,000 to various charities and people in need over the past eight years. We still give away every penny we make. We?re all volunteers and we have no expenses.”
On the first Saturday of each month, between 8 a.m. and noon, the Upper Room opens its doors to people who are welcome to browse through the second floor shop and purchase whatever catches their eye. The setting is much like an opportunity shop and the variety of items is impressive: clothes in all sizes for children, men and women in all sizes, china, lamps, dishes, espresso machines, art, books on a multitude of topics, toys, jewelry, all sorts of knick knacks, electronics and even a few antique items. The items are priced very reasonably and are donated on a continual basis, Martin says. The team of volunteers helps to clean items and tag them for sale.
When asked about the community’s response to the Upper Room, Martin says, “We have many people who love supporting this ministry by providing items for us to sell; and we have many, approximately 4,000 people a year, who come to shop. They find what they need at a very low cost. We give 100 percent of our proceeds to charities. We don’t keep a dime.”
Among the many charities and organizations the Upper Room provides assistance to are C.A.R.E. International, Glory House Women’s Shelter, Tulsa Food Bank, Salvation Army, Oklahoma National Guard in Iraq, Daycare for the Homeless, Meals-On-Wheels, Battered Women’s Shelter, Missionaries, as well as Hurricane and Tsunami victims. A notable characteristic of The Upper Room is its ability to respond very quickly to those in need. Only hours after Hurricane Katrina struck, they sent supplies to the victims.
After ten years, what started as a small group of women who wanted to help make a difference in people’s lives has grown into a thriving ministry with an international reach. On June 6, The Upper Room held its 10th Anniversary celebration, and among the invited guests were Mayor Kathy Taylor, state legislators, city councilmen and those from the community whose tireless work has been instrumental in helping to build The Upper Room into the ministry it is today. Martin says, “It’s wonderful to be able to help others as much as we do. I’m very thankful to our congregation for their donations and prayers for this spirit-led outreach ministry. We are blessed to have touched so many lives and helped so many people and organizations.”
For more information about The Upper Room and how to donate items, contact Rosita Martin at (918) 592-2999.