Spring Cleaning

Happy March! We hope this month brings beautiful, sunny weather and joy to you and yours. We’ve been very busy at Castaways lately, especially welcoming Phil Stauffer, a long-time thrift store executive, to our team. His background as Vice President at Goodwill Ohio will be invaluable in continuing to provide our shoppers and donors a friendly and warm experience at Castaways Resale Store.

Doing Good While Looking Good

By shopping at Castaways, you help to raise funds in support of our mission to reunify children with their incarcerated parents, provide at-risk people with employment, and reconcile broken pasts with a new future. We think of this as “Doing Good While Looking Good”, and we are proud of the shopping environment we have created while serving the community.

And we could not have the full and ever-changing inventory in our store without the incredible donations from those that support us. From the latest fashion trends to furniture and holiday decorations, and from sporting equipment to accessories, there is always something new and exciting to discover at Castaways. But did you know that clothing is the donation item that we always need the most?


A Tale of Letting Go

We all do it—we hang on to pieces of clothing, to those golf shoes, or that recipe book that we will never use. And why? In her international bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo says, “We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of”. Her method of organization and purging is based upon the simple principal of holding up a singular article (clothing, gadget, you name it) and asking, “Does this object spark joy?”. Not “Will it ever fit again?” or “Surely I’ll need this…” Does it spark joy?

[Author’s side note: I absolutely admit to keeping clothing because of the memories associated with wearing a certain piece. The dress I wore when my now-husband and I got engaged? Keeping! A sweater hand-knit by my grandmother over ten years ago…can’t get rid of that! I get it. But after being associated with Castaways, I am now able to let go of the clothing because the memories will always be there. End soliloquy.]


 Why Store Stuff When You Can Restore People?

And even with the recent chilly weather in our fair city, spring is just around the corner. That means exchanging boots for open-toed shoes and coats for short-sleeved shirts. Maybe you have to move items from one closet to the other, or even—gasp!—get your kids’ warmer weather clothes out of storage. It’s the time of year that many of us go on a huge organizing spree, whether that is cleaning out the closet or garage.

And when you’re in spring cleaning frenzy, please keep Castaways and our mission in mind. By donating—either your gently used goods or that t-shirt with a hole in it—you can continue to help those we serve and #EndTheCycle. Even if an item of clothing is damaged, we can still recycle it and give it a new life. And if you have two garbage bags worth of clothing to donate, we’ll even come pick it up. Click here to learn more about donating to Castaways. 

Thank you for being a part of the Castaways family. We couldn’t achieve our mission without you! 

After Prison, Now What?

AnaLisa grew up in Las Vegas. A self-described good kid, she made excellent grades in school and really loved algebra and science. “Math is my thing,” she shares with a big smile on her face. “I wanted to teach third grade because I loved my third grade teacher.” When she was in high school, AnaLisa started having a hard time getting along with her stepfather. She ran away, changed schools, and gave up on making friends. AnaLisa started a part-time job at McDonald’s, fell in love with a coworker, and started ditching school.

Soon she found herself pregnant, and her daughter was born in 2009. Around the time of her little girl’s first birthday, Imani was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. “My daughter will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life,” AnaLisa said. “During this extremely stressful time in my life, I began smoking weed.” She didn’t think it was influencing the relationship with Imani, but that is when her life took a turn she never expected it to take: the marijuana caught up with her.

Early in the morning of January 24, 2014, AnaLisa smoked very early in the morning and then took a nap. Late afternoon, she drove to pick up her roommate—she thought she was fine to drive. Then, something she will regret for the rest of her life happened: she got into a terrible accident and hurt two pedestrians. “One is paralyzed,” she laments. She was arrested and later sentenced to 3 ½ to 10 years of prison.

Hard Lessons Learned Doing Hard Time

But AnaLisa’s story doesn’t end here. Once in prison in the spring of 2014, she went through a very introspective period and realized that smoking marijuana was part of a pattern that she went through when she was facing difficulties. “I was definitely an addict. If I was feeling anything other than happy, I smoked weed.” She sadly says she missed 3 and ½ years of Imani’s growth and development. Realizing that felt like her rock bottom. And then, she started to end the cycle.

While incarcerated, AnaLisa spent time working in the prison’s kitchen before going to a camp facility in Jean, Nevada and becoming certified as a wildland firefighter. “When I wasn’t fighting fires, I was doing landscaping with chainsaws and hedgers.” She thinks back on this time as a period of growth and learning discipline. AnaLisa was introduced to the God Behind Bars program and took classes to learn to take responsibility for her actions. She credits a Skills to Recovery course as helping her see how many were impacted by her choices.

AnaLisa’s sentence was reduced due to the programs she completed and because of the dangers of her firefighter work. In April of 2016, she transferred to the transitional program at Casa Grande, where she learned life skills such as crafting a resume and job interview skills. Soon, she also learned about the mission of Castaways Resale store and started as a volunteer.

Ending the Cycle

Not long after AnaLisa began at Castaways, she was offered a full-time job as a cashier. She left Casa Grande shortly after and got an apartment. AnaLisa was also a customer of the resale store, and she shopped Castaways’ shelves: “I left prison with $4,000 in savings with a wardrobe and shoes. I could afford furnishing my apartment because of our great selection.”

And talk about moving up—AnaLisa has quickly moved into an operations role and currently is floor supervisor. She now oversees all employees, scheduling, payroll, hiring hands-on management with the leadership team, Castaways’ donation outlets, scheduling pick-ups, and deliveries. She says, “My job is my focus. And it has everything to do with where I currently am.” She feels successful and supported, and she now has better communication with family members.


She also counts the Castaways team as family—"Friends I thought I had disappeared; the people at Castaways help me feel like I am not alone. Castaways has everything to do with where I am.” That’s why our mission to reunify families, provide those incarcerated with employment, and reconcile relationships is so important. “I know the struggle; I lived it,” remarks AnaLisa.

“I wish I could help everyone see and understand how important supporting an organization like Castaways is,” AnaLisa concludes. “When you donate, you impact more than you will ever understand. The fact we are giving families like mine a path to a better future is so important to ending the cycle.”