BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Five hands formed a wreath around the scissors for the grand opening's ribbon cutting. And with that snip, a gleaming new Family Store and Donation Center is open for shoppers on Coursey Boulevard between Home Depot and Dollar Tree.
The faces of officials were beaming at this major step toward coming back better and stronger from the Salvation Army's major loss of all its buildings in 2016. The gleaming new building has red and white helium balloons. They want kids and families in the store. The building may even smell new compared to the six buildings, their Baton Rouge complex devastated by flood.
"We're almost at 22 months since the flood, but we're getting back into business and that's a great thing. It feels great, it looks good," said Major Brett Meredith.
Pausing between the pristine, organized racks of clothing, Majors Brett and Mary Meredith were talking with Stephen Landry, who looked so excited you might have thought it was his store opening. Money earned at the store will fund programs like the Salvation Army's Drug and Alcohol rehab program. Landry was one of the programs participants and is now four years clean.
"One of the greatest sayings I've heard in the Salvation Army was, 'If you do what you've always done, you're going to get what you've always gotten.' To be different, you have to do different things. And that's not just doing drugs or alcohol. It's thinking different, being different, acting different, praying different, everything," said Landry.
Landry knows the designer sunglasses, the racks and racks of real bargains, and the gently used furniture will raise funds to give more people the chance to rebuild their lives. He knows the recovery is real.
"I tried something that I've never tried before and that's recovery. And recovery actually worked. So I did something and I'm benefiting from it in every way possible," he said.
The Salvation Army continues its flood recovery and seems very close to reopening its previously flooded buildings. "We anticipate by winter, late fall having everything open again," Major Mary Meredith said hopefully.
The Family Store employees say they'll accept most major credit cards.