A tragedy for a Pigeon Forge business has had a silver lining for many local non-profits, including Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic.
Judy Stump has spent some time recently volunteering at the Clinic, helping with various paperwork and office tasks. She is an employee of Stages West, a Western-themed store in Pigeon Forge that suffered a devastating fire last August.
While the store is being remodeled and restored, employees such as Judy are still earning pay, provided they spend their working hours helping out at local non-profits. This was a generous plan put into effect by Stages West owners Steve and Marlene Houser and their son Stephen. What is truly astounding is that Judy had worked at the store for only seven days before the fire.
“I just praise the Housers for giving me the opportunity to stay on with them,” she says. “They didn’t have to, and that shows what kind of people they are. Since I was the newest employee, they really didn’t have to keep me.”
Some of the non-profits benefiting from Stages West volunteer help are Mountain Hope, King Family Library, Sevier County Food Ministries, Sevier County Humane Society, the senior center and Pigeon Forge Fire Department. Judy has shelved books and helped with the after-school program at KFL, sorted clothes in the food ministry’s thrift store and given out fire alarms at the Pigeon Forge mobile home park, worked the concession stand at high school football games and passed out fliers.
Though employees may not be working as many hours as they would at the store, they are still earning some pay and they all have the prospect of returning to their former jobs when the store reopens some time next year.
“I’m telling you, this company is just amazing,” Judy says. “I’ve never been involved with a business that’s this caring.”