Kensington: Christian Thrift Store Works to End Welfare Reliance

John Mollow, 48, and other staff members discussed sports in front of one of many stained glass pieces of art.
Productive Lives Thrift, located at 3060 Frankford Ave., bared a large, white cross on its exterior. Like the stained glass artwork inside, the cross was remnant of the small church that was once there.

Kensington thrift store, Productive Lives, seeks to relieve those caught in the “welfare trap” by providing work.

Director John Mollo, 48, said he believes that people treat welfare as if it’s free money and don’t realize that it will one day dry up.

“People don’t wanna work! They get welfare but they can work,” Mollo said. “Their mothers and their fathers and their grandparents were on welfare. I’m not putting down welfare, but welfare is going to be cut.”

Productive Lives recruits volunteers from the House of Adonai, a Christian recovery ministry, and Cornerstone Community Church, Mollo’s home church. The volunteers work for four months before, upon approval, becoming part-time employees at the thrift store.

“If they continue to show good work ethic and faithfulness then we move them to a point where they can use us as a reference for full time employment in an area of their trade or wherever they might try and get a job,” Mollo said.

Originally a church and then a store called Nifty Thrifty, Productive Lives officially started business on June 14.

John Mollo, 48, and other staff members discussed sports in front of one of many stained glass pieces of art.

“Our goal is to get men and women out of the welfare trap that has been in this neighborhood for generations,” said Mollo.

Mollo ultimately said he hopes those that leave Productive Lives will return to the community as productive, working members of society. “We want them to learn how to sacrificially serve their community [because] they have to sacrificially serve their family.”

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