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For nearly 40 years, Farmingdale's Pretty New Thrift Shop has financed efforts to provide assistance to ailing Long Island residents. Now, its owners are turning to Long Islanders for assistance with the shop.

The Pretty New Thrift Shop is owned and operated by Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Services, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides counseling and other services to residents of Nassau and Suffolk County afflicted with mental health and substance abuse issues. Central Nassau opened the shop, located on Farmingdale's Main Street, in 1972 as a means of funding the organization's work. Proceeds from the shop are used to maintain Central Nassau's growing network of programs and services across Long Island.

The shop is managed and maintained solely by a staff of volunteers. Recently, a lack of volunteers has prevented the store from remaining open during certain times of the day and even during entire days altogether. This loss of business hours has resulted in a loss of funding for Central Nassau.

"Without enough volunteers, the Pretty New Thrift Shop cannot open for business, and this lessens our ability to provide services to an already underserved community," said Barbara Bartell, Central Nassau's Chief Executive Officer.

In response to this, Central Nassau is now putting out an urgent call for volunteers for the shop.

"We are turning to the Farmingdale community to ask for help," explained Bartell.

According to Gene Gallagher, director of fundraising and development for Central Nassau, the current economic conditions have made the need for maintaining mental health services even greater than ever.

"One in five families on Long Island is struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues," he said. "As our community has been impacted by the bad economy, we are seeing more and more people needing help to deal with the pressures of mounting bills and debt. Many people are turning to us for counseling. Unfortunately, we also see people trying to escape through increased drug and alcohol usage. This leads to an increased need for our substance abuse services."

In his appeal to Long Islanders for help, Gallagher explains that undertaking volunteer work can be a very rewarding prospect.

"Your small contribution of time can have a huge impact on our efforts and make a meaningful difference in our community," he said. "Through volunteering, you have an opportunity to help rebuild lives and fulfill your own. Imagine the wonderful feeling you'll get, knowing you lent a helping hand and picked a person up when they were down."

Central Nassau is also putting out a call for donations to the shop. The bulk of the merchandise it sells - clothes, books, furniture, decorations, and various household items - has been provided by donors.

"So as you 'clean out' your closets, attic, garage, etc., please remember our Thrift Shop," a message on Central Nassau's website reads. If necessary, Central Nassau can sometimes arrange to have larger items picked up from a donor's home. Central Nassau also welcomes monetary donations.

"All donations to us are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law," said Gallagher. "Cash donations are appreciated greatly and assist us with our efforts to provide services to families and individuals struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse issues. There are so many ways you can help."

The Pretty New Thrift Shop is currently located at 238 Main St. Its doors are open to the public. For more information on how to help, visit www.centralnassau.org or call 822-6111.


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