Joe Lewis and his wife, Pastor Sheila Smith, have dedicated their lives to helping others. Whether it be those less fortunate then themselves that they serve through their ministry and thrift store, or the at-risk youth that come through their doors, sent there by the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Steppin’ Out for Christ Ministries and Thrift Store began with Smith, but Lewis always had a vision to help redirect young people who were considered at-risk, which is how a partnership with the Department of Juvenile Justice was formed approximately eight years ago.
Continuously short-staffed, the partnership helped provide the thrift store with workers — and the children with mentors and a sense of responsibility that they were lacking in their lives. Lewis also found that speaking to the children with an air of authority while still showing them respect worked wonders.
"We’ve put our heart into this," he said. "And we have a team philosophy that generates success. It’s their natural tendency to try you," he said of teenagers. "And that is any teenager — at-risk or not — but when they see that you care for them and want what’s best, you aren’t just trying to control things, they will work with you."
Working at the thrift store also allows the teens to get employment training on how to speak to people and how to work with others by taking direction and lending a helping hand without being asked to do so. It helps them to learn compassion for those other than themselves.
The thrift store is located next to Fred’s on U.S. Highway 278. They are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and can be reached at (678) 342-6474.