In 2008, David and Iris Arnold of the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in Leavenworth, Kansas had a vision to start a not-for-profit organization in the city of Leavenworth. Iris had served as the Community Services Director at their church for many years and developed a passion for helping people. After much prayer and deliberation, Iris and David completed all the necessary paperwork with the IRS and State of Kansas to become incorporated as a 501c3 organization and in April 2010, the Leavenworth Mission, Inc. was founded.
When considering a name and the services the organization would provide, David and Iris went back to their roots. Feeding the poor and providing clothing to the less fortunate was the simple business plan they would implement. The vision was then to open a local thrift store in the community which would give away free food and religious literature on a weekly basis and allow people to purchase clothing, appliances, furniture, electronics, and other thrift store items at a cost way below other stores in the area. One other feature the store would have is a Beauty Salon, unlike any other thrift store. Iris, being a licensed cosmetologist, was impressed to provide free haircuts to individuals who could not afford it. As David and Iris prayed about their vision, God inspired the couple to name the store The Leavenworth Mission Community Store with the motto “Giving back to Our Community.”
The ground work had been laid and now all David and Iris needed to do was find a building where they could operate the store. The couple prayed and asked the Lord for guidance as they started their quest to find a building that was strategically located in the city of Leavenworth. However, this would prove to be most challenging. But acting on faith, the couple continued to purchase supplies, store fixtures, and other store necessities. They also began receiving free clothing, appliance, electronic, and furniture donations and placing those items in their garage in anticipation of the store opening.
On Monday, April 12, 2010, David and Iris received official notification from the IRS that their organization had been incorporated as a legitimate 501c3. The couple praised the Lord for this accomplishment. However, there was still one problem. They didn’t have a building to rent or own. In their haste to find a building, the couple started calling local business owners and drove around the city of Leavenworth looking for a place that had at least 5,000 square feet of storefront space. David and Iris soon realized after a few short meetings with business owners that the cost of renting a building 5,000 square feet would cost about $5,000 a month, not including utilities. The couple was faced with tough logistical and financial challenges but their faith did not waiver.
On Thursday, April 15, 2010, just 3 days after they received notice from the IRS that they were an approved 501c3, a gentleman the couple did not know called Iris at home. He introduced himself and inquired if she was still looking for a building. Iris said yes and asked the man how he got this information. The man said he was talking to a local business woman and she gave her name to him. The man said he was looking for a non-profit organization to donate the building to in an effort to help the community. The building he wanted to donate had over 10,000 square feet of storefront space, a dock, a lift for heavy equipment, property adjacent to the building, and an apartment on the second floor of the building. To simplify matters, the building was already zoned for commercial use.
All David and Iris could do was praise the Lord. Through the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit, God lead someone to them. And not only did God provide ample space to operate the store, He doubled the square footage!
Within a month, the property deed was transferred to the organization and the Leavenworth Mission, Inc. had a place to call home. The couple invested several thousand dollars to renovate the store with fresh paint, new lights, new bathrooms, and other cosmetic touch ups. They also framed in a 750 square feet beauty salon with all the amenities included.
The store opened its doors to the public on October 18, 2010. The grand opening was amazing with over 1,000 customers shopping in the store during the first week. Since that time, the Leavenworth Mission has expanded its capacity. In 2011, the store opened a food pantry which provides free food on Mondays and Tuesdays of each week. The store has become one of the largest food distribution centers in the city and collaborates with Harvesters and the Federal Emergency Food Assistance Program. The Mission prepares and serves over 350 food boxes each month. The storefront also serves as an outreach ministry which sells Christian books and gives away free literature.
Iris and David are grateful and humbled that God has entrusted them with such an awesome responsibility of providing services to a community with many needs. They are blessed to have volunteers from the community and members of the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church who help operate the store and Food Pantry on a weekly basis. They truly believe ministry begins outside the church walls. The couple will continue to pray that God will enlarge their territory and expand their mission to help as many people as possible who are in need. It is their prayer God’s love and magnificent plan of salvation will be presented to every individual who enters through the doors of The Leavenworth Mission Community Store.
Elder David Arnold, Reporting
Elder James White, Jr., Van Ministries Director
Iris and David Arnold of The Leavenworth Mission are pictured here with their pastor, Duane Thomas (left), of Shiloh Church.