On a typical Tuesday or Thursday at Cross Border Partners, you’ll find a buzz of activity and a small army of dedicated volunteers each doing their part to help those in need.
“If little stuff needs fixed, Bob goes and picks it up,” says Sue Nash, President of Cross Borders Partners. “We have around 45 volunteers, and maybe half a dozen are over 90 years old.”
Cross Border Partners is a Christian nonprofit organization in operation for the past 22 years. They collect clothing, household items, furniture, appliances and other items to redistribute to those who need it.
Nash says the volunteers are the heart and soul of the operation. “They’re wonderful. They’re here all day. It doesn’t matter what goes on, they’re here. They know each other and they know the clients.”
Cross Border Partners helps between 300 and 350 families each year. Once a family is referred to the program by a service organization or a church, they can shop in the thrift store once a month for a year with all items free of charge.
Nash buzzes around the facility at 4611 Newaygo Road, just off Coliseum Boulevard near Lima Road. “Here’s Ramona,” she says. “Or, the ‘Bleach Lady’ as we call her.”
Ramona Scheimann says they get a lot of good items that are a little soiled, but if she can get them clean, they go out for their clients. “They say if I can’t get it out, it doesn’t come out!”
While Ramona works on a load of laundry, a man pushes an old shopping cart with a new sign that reads, “Bob’s Pickup, Delivery and Fixing.”
The cart has a small, portable fan attached to it. Bob flips the switch and the fan starts blowing cool air. “Now we say this is an air conditioned cart!”
Bob and Ramona Schiemann have been married 68 years, going on 69 this summer as Ramona points out. “We’re both 90, going on 91. God has blessed us.”
Every volunteer here feels the same way. Blessed.
Bob works at a section with 87-year-old Ron Radeke. After retiring form the Air Force, Radeke worked for Strategic Air Command in Nebraska and several defense contractors in Fort Wayne. He now puts his talents to use fixing various furniture items that come into the shop.
“Taking something that has been thrown out or discarded by other people and turning it into something that can be used again is what I like. Whatever furniture comes in with broken pieces, or missing parts, I do what needs to be done.”
Nash beams with pride when talking about Bob and Ron. “Those guys are amazing,” she says. “They’ll take two different pieces of furniture and make one really nice piece of furniture. They’re very proud of what they give these people.”
The pride is felt by every one of the volunteers that give their time so freely for the cause.
“They all want to help,” says Radeke with a smile. “They’re doing what the lord told them to do.”
Laura Ellenwood’s face breaks into a big smile when she talks about Bob. “Bob Scheimann was my fifth grade teacher at Holy Cross Lutheran School,” she says with pride. “And he was wonderful!”
It’s part of the family atmosphere that permeates the people at Cross Border Partners.
Dawn Dodenhoff handles much of the holiday section which helps brings smiles to so many young faces who need it. “It gives you purpose,” she says. “If you have a heart for giving, this is the place to be.”
Dodenhoff couldn’t be more right.
This story is part one of a two-part Positively Fort Wayne report.
Cross Border Partners is currently in need of a building to house their operation by the end of the year.
We’ll have more on that part of the story in part two next week.