77 Year Old Woman Makes a Difference by Holding Garage Sales

By Barb Tobias
NABBW’s Thrifting Expert

Rochester Hills, Mich: Neighborhood gives back for 19th year

Here’s a tip: When visiting Joanne Marcil’s home, watch your stuff. Just ask her husband, Ray, who left a jacket lying around. Joanne grabbed it and sold it at her community’s Make A Difference Day flea market.

When Ray later asked her about it, she just smiled.

The project began in 1992 as a garage sale, raising $150 to buy high chairs for a soup kitchen. Marcil, 77, had such a good time she enlisted family and friends to create bigger events every year.

The two-day market is now tradition, requiring 150 volunteers and five families’ garages to store donated items.

In 2010, the sale raised $13,000 for women in crisis, the homeless, people with chronic diseases and others. In 19 years, the project has raised $71,000. It’s hard work but well worth it, Marcil says. “I’m doing something to help this world, not just wishing things were better.”

$10,000 Make A Difference Day Award from Newman’s Own goes to The Baldwin Center, Pontiac, Mich.

“We are simply elated at being chosen as one of the National Honorees,” says Joanne Marcil, creator and co-chair of Brookwood’s flea market project. “There are so many worthy Make A Difference Day projects held each year around the country. We are truly blessed to be counted among the 10 projects selected to receive this amazing honor.”

“We owe our success to the overwhelming generosity of the Brookwood community, our volunteers – the angel brigade, our friends, families, our local business supporters, sponsors and the people from the surrounding area who come out to shop at the flea market,” adds Trish Kangas, co-chair of the Brookwood Make A Difference Day Flea Market. “Thank you to all of them for making it possible for us to receive this $10,000 award that we are donating to the Baldwin Center (Pontiac, Mich.).”

Pictured left to right are: Trish Kangas, Lisa Machesky, executive director of the Baldwin Center, Sylvia Wheeling, food director at the Baldwin Center, Joanne Marcil, Carolyn Wells and Kathy Bommarito. Marcil, Wells, Kangas and Bommarito are the organizers of the Brookwood Make A Difference Day Flea Market. Marcil is creator and co-chair, Kangas is the co-chair, Wells and Bommarito are project coordinators.

This year’s judges:

Charles Gabrielson: President & Publisher, USA WEEKEND Magazine

Brian Gallagher: President and CEO, United Way Worldwide

Michael Havard: Vice President of Marketing, Newman’s Own Inc.

Kim Martin: President and General Manager, WE tv and Wedding Central

Michelle Nunn: CEO, Points of Light, Institute & Co-founder, HandsOn Network

Barb Tobias is a professional speaker and inspiring coach who renovates lives, homes and wardrobes by sticking her curious little nose into other people’s “thrifty business.” After a lifetime of transforming trash into treasure, this savvy mistress of thrift shares her secrets to finding deals, repurposing before tossing, reconstructing the tattered and renewing things others view as passé in her recent release…Tossed & Found; Where Frugal is Chic. Her “tell all” book is not simply a journey of personal transformation, but teaches a newly frugal nation how to purchase, purge and profit from thrift.