Volunteer making a difference in lives of adults with special needs

She once focused on kid's with special needs - now she's turned her attention to folks who are a little older.
She once focused on kid's with special needs - now she's turned her attention to folks who are a little older.

"I think when I have the opportunity to just help someone - even a small thing; open a door; get someone a cup of coffee; or working here at the shop - I just feel that inner spirit. It's sort of like an angelic experience for me," says Carol Hovsepian.

When she walked into ReRuns in Farmington several years ago, she noticed the resale shop, benefiting Community Living Centers, was in pretty bad shape. So, she took upon herself to turn it around and didn't ask for anything in return.

"This location provides the experiences for adults with disabilities to practice the skills that they have," explains Hovsepian. "Becoming more independent, their problem solving skills, and just having the opportunity just to be with everybody else." 

Brad Rickert is the unofficial shopkeeper at ReRuns, which is located in the old winery on Grand River. He's also a resident at Community Living Centers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing residential care to individuals with developmental disabilities.  

CLC's executive director Lisa Murrel says before Carole started volunteering ReRuns was messy and unsafe.

"Carole is an amazing woman. She came to me and said, 'I'd like to volunteer; I've been in the shop. I think that there's tons of potential but I also think that people are taking advantage of Brad,'" says Murrel. 

Rickert says Hovsepian has helped make a big difference. 

Under the guidance of the retired special education administrator, there is now organization where there was once chaos. The resale shop is well-stocked, and valuable items like Waterford crystal, while still a bargain, are more appropriately priced.  

"She has given people the confidence that they didn't have before, and she gives them time and attention. Without her they wouldn't be as happy and they wouldn't be in such a good place," says Murrel. 

Carole has become much more than a business mentor for Brad and the other residents who volunteer at ReRuns. She also encourages healthy eating, exercise and has helped instill in these individuals with special needs a sense of self worth they never had before. Despite all of this, the West Bloomfield resident insists she's the one who benefits the most from her work there.

"When I come into the shop the light switch is turned on and when I leave, it's like no time passed at all and I feel really great," says Hovsepian. She recommends everyone try to volunteer at some point. 

"You think you're helping out someone else, but the joy that you get when you serve others, for me, is really key, and I just think everybody should take that opportunity to really explore those options," she says.

LINK: Click here to learn more about CLC's ReRuns II

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