Teaming Up to Serve
Employee Spotlight – Julie Paden
Frequent Ministry Village Bargain Center shoppers will recognize Julie Paden, the hardworking, Jesus-loving, customer-oriented Bargain Center manager who leads a team of dedicated employees, volunteers and community service helpers to keep the store stocked with fantastic finds and great deals.
Julie has worked at the Ministry Village Bargain Center since October 2018. She had previously worked at Toys R Us for more than 15 years, but when the company filed for bankruptcy, Julie’s job became a corporate casualty. She began working for Office Pride, a commercial cleaning service in Pensacola, and used it as an opportunity to decompress from her job loss and the change from her day-to-day routine while she decided what she should do next. She received a call from Mrs. Deborah Jones, then manager of the Bargain Center, who asked if she would consider working for her at Ministry Village. “I immediately said ‘yes’,” remembers Julie. “I needed people – people to work with, and a team to be on. I missed that.”
Julie was promoted to Bargain Center Manager in 2019. Her years in merchandising at Toys R Us gave her an experienced eye for organizing and displaying merchandise, and she knew how to appeal to customers and price items competitively thanks to her years of working retail. “We are a thrift store, and items need to be priced competitively. But we are also providing funding for a ministry, and we want to be able to bring in as much financial support as possible for the Charis House, Tender Hearts Caring Hands, and Most Excellent Way.”
While the Bargain Center helps to financially support the other programs of Ministry Village, the ladies in the Charis House program also help to support the Bargain Center. The Charis House is Ministry Village’s non-profit Christian-based residential substance abuse recovery program for females. As women go through the program, they begin volunteering at the Bargain Center for work therapy. Working at the Bargain Center becomes a tool to help them get back on their feet. They learn to work with a team. They learn to be accountable and dependable as employees. They gain work experience, organizational skills, and develop confidence and a sense of pride. “The Charis House ladies make my job great,” says Julie. “Seeing them learn, grow and recover is a top priority for me. I love them like they are my own kids!”
Julie’s heart for people in need has led to many opportunities for the Bargain Center and Ministry Village to serve the community. She has spearheaded programs that provide shopping vouchers for those in need (including veterans, recently-released prisoners, women and girls from the PACE Center for Girls, and clients from other community-partner programs) to find clothes and shoes suitable for job interviews, as well as small household items needed for those moving out of a program onto their own. She also works closely with Benita Padilla, a local woman who began a ministry to the homeless in the wake of the COVID pandemic and the 2020 hurricane season. Julie collects clothing and shoes each month for Benita, who distributes the items to area homeless camps along with food and hygiene items from Tender Hearts Caring Hands.
Finding ways to demonstrate God’s love to our community is a priority for Julie, at work and in her free time. When Julie is not at the Bargain Center, you can probably find her at Olive Baptist Church. “I love my church and the children’s department. I teach Sunday School and AWANAS (a Bible-based ministry focused on discipling children). I also love going to Disney World – it’s my hobby – and I’m kind of obsessed with Christmas.” (Be forewarned – Julie starts decorating for Christmas at the Bargain Center as early in the season as possible!) She shares her excitement for God, her church, all-things Disney, and the Christmas season with her husband Derek and her son Richie.
“I love my job. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work at the Bargain Center, and be a part of the Ministry Village at Olive family and the work we do for the community. The team we have, our customers, and our faithful donors – they make me feel blessed every day. Having people who build you up as an employee and a person is one of the most important parts of a career. I found that at Ministry Village.”
🏘 For more information on Ministry Village at Olive, Inc. and its work in the community, follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinistryVillage, on Twitter @MinistryVillage, visit their website, MinistryVillage.org, or call (850) 473-4466.
🛍 Shop the Bargain Center at 92 E. Nine Mile Road, just east of Palafox, near the railroad tracks. Monday through Saturday, 9 AM to 5 PM. With unique vendor booths, furniture, clothing and more, there’s always something exciting for everyone!
📦 Donations are accepted Monday through Saturday, 9 AM to 4 PM. If you have large furniture, call the Bargain Center during regular store hours to schedule the Bargain Center’s truck for pickup. 850-912-9222. Or visit www.ReSupplyMe.org to schedule a pickup online.
💰 Want to be a Bargain Center VIP Treasure Hunter? Be the first to learn about our sales and special events! Text 850-613-0288 to join our new text group and receive special text updates!
**Because of government regulations, the Bargain Center does not accept donations of mattresses, and does not sell used or new mattresses. Please contact your sanitation service to dispose of used mattresses. **