About 12 years ago on a trip to Honduras, Gina Ziccardi Urbanski (’87) witnessed the difference the La Vista-based store, ReRUNS R Fun, was making in the world. The nonprofit consignment shop donated to build a residence hall for 48 students and elderly, known as Casa Hogar. Creation of the two-story, lavender and mint-green building meant children no longer had to walk four hours down a hill each morning to school and then four hours back at night. They could live in Casa Hogar, where they could study, sleep, play and be cared for by older folk, who had been struggling themselves and were in want of company.
“This is their way out of poverty,” Urbanski saysof the kids getting an education and learning a trade. “They are not stuck in the coffee bean fields.”
Until this trip, Urbanski felt guilty for the time she spent at the store and not with her husband, John (’87), and their eight children. When she got back from Honduras, her mission was clear.
“Sign me up!”
Urbanski is Director of Operations for ReRUNS R Fun, and her sister, Tammi Ziccardi Bosijevac (’90) is Curator of Good, in charge of the store’s new online presence, known as simply ReRUNS, and it’s in-store and pop-up women’s boutique. Together, these Cougar alumnae are helping expand the business to benefit even more charities.
“I love this group,” Urbanski shared of the nonprofit’s community. It’s not unlike the Gross Cathoilc community, the sisters comment.
“It’s cool to be connected,” reflects Urbanski, who sees her fellow Gross Catholic alumni every day. “We are all doing the same thing – doing good.”
Bosijevac, a mother of three, said friends tease her about her “pick up line” when they go out – “Did you go to Gross?” In today’s mobile society, especially in Sarpy County with the Air Force base, she said, it should be common to have cities full of strangers. But not here.
“A lot of people don’t have the roots we have in Omaha,” she boasts.
Urbanski joined ReRUNS R Fun 19 years ago as a volunteer when her kids were attending St. Columbkille School. At the time, Anna Sortino, who started the store in her basement, was moving the business from building to building around town as it grew. About 14 years ago, ReRUNS R Fun landed in its current 84th Street building.
“We are blessed with a beautiful philanthropist who bought us this building,” Urbanski says.
At one point when Sortino’s husband became ill, she turned the business over to St. Columbkille to operate. But less than a year later, the church handed it back.
“We are in the business of saving souls,” Urbanski says they were told, “not recycling clothes.”
But the church helped ReRUNS R Fun set up as a nonprofit, creating the foundation for today’s growth. In 2012, the board of directors created staff positions for Urbanski and a second woman to sustain the operation.
“We are very good stewards with what God graces us with so I am the consignor coordinator, art department, maintenance department, IT department, lead cashier, bookkeeper and a few other things,” Urbanski shares of her director of operations responsibilities. “Anna kinda just tried to come up with a title that covered it all. ‘Chaos Coordinator’ did not sound professional.”
Then in December 2017, Bosijevac was hired when two other staff positions were created.
“Anna is a trailblazer,” comments Bosijevac.
Sortino, whose son Michael graduated from Gross Catholic, continues to help when needed.
“She’s retired,” says Urbanski, “but her heart is still in it.”
Urbanski estimates ReRUNS R Fun has given away nearly $4 million to charities in a little over eight years from consignment sales of children’s clothing. The supermarket-sized building, crammed with more than 120,0000 items, is open to the public for only eight days twice a year – in September and March – making it an event where people line up on the sidewalk. ReRUNS R Fun collects 35 percent from each consignment sale, then donates to its list of more than 100 charities.
By launching an online store that operates 24/7, Bosijevac estimates ReRUNS could increase donations to $1 million a year by tapping into a national market of children’s clothing consignors and consumers. In just the first few months since ReRUNS.com went live, 110 people were posting sales of clothing. ReRUNS keeps 20 percent for charity.
The boutique operates differently. A corner of the store has new women’s clothing, jewelry and accessories that Bosijevac purchases from wholesalers. A small mark-up on each item goes to charity. Boutique items also are set up at pop-up sales around town, marketing the ReRUNS’s brand while raising funds for specific charities.
The board of directors for ReRUNS R Fun determines who will receive donations, Urbanski said. Recipients must be grass-roots, nonprofits that are volunteer-driven and aligned with Christian beliefs.
“We want them to be like us,” she shares.
The “us” are 433 volunteers and 900 consignors who make the bi-annual sales at ReRUNS R Fun happen each year. Volunteers who work 50 or more hours can request where some of the charitable donations go. For example, this perk recently directed money to a couple organizations that help comfort mothers who lost babies at birth. One takes the baby’s footprints and reproduces them into jewelry. Another produces burial gowns for the babies, sewn by prisoners. It is the impact of these types of charities that motivates the sisters.
“You don’t do this for the money, I can tell you that,” Bosijevac notes.
Helping others is what they were taught to do by hard-working parents, who sacrificed for them, and lessons learned in Catholic school.
“Leaving Gross, I think I had such a foundation for doing good,” Bosijevac recalls. “Marianist values were instilled in us.”
To learn more about ReRUNS R Fun, the ReRUNS pop-up boutique, and the organization’s mission work around the world, visit https://www.rerunsrfun.org/.