Meet EveryStep Giving Tree's Pat Bokina

Pat Bokina

With an extensive career in retail, Pat Bokina has shared her expertise with EveryStep Giving Tree for the last four years. As head cashier at the Urbandale boutique-style thrift store, Pat began as a volunteer before joining the staff about a year later.

Before coming to EveryStep Giving Tree, Pat spent 35 years as a manager and buyer for antiques, silver, crystal and gift items in Illinois. Though her title now is head cashier, this previous experience often comes in handy when valuing donations made to the store.

Pat says she and the staff and volunteers at EveryStep Giving Tree are always respectful of the items that are brought to the store, but are also curious about how they came to be donated. “We always wonder where they come from. Are they cleaning out the house? We try and ask nicely if we can. If they’re just downsizing, or if are they cleaning their basement, or did someone pass away?”

Once the donated items are received, staff and volunteers clean and tastefully place the items on the sales floor. “That's the top comment we get from customers — how we have arranged it. Michele (Bronson, EveryStep Giving Tree manager) is fantastic at that,” says Pat. “Shoppers say it’s pretty and clean. You wouldn’t even know it’s a thrift store.”

The inviting atmosphere of EveryStep Giving Tree is one of the reasons Pat enjoys working at the store. “It's really a fantastic place to work. We have so much fun and we've become a family. We’re genuinely concerned about one another, including our volunteers. We couldn’t make it without our volunteers. They’re fantastic!”

Pat considers many of the EveryStep Giving Tree shoppers as friends and says she enjoys seeing newcomers discover all the thrift store has to offer. “I want people to know that it is a fantastic place to shop. You can get about anything. I love working with everybody here and I love seeing the customers and interacting with them.”

Pat continues to expand her retail knowledge at EveryStep Giving Tree and is learning the jewelry trade from expert Pat Ross, a longtime volunteer dedicated to checking jewelry items to determine their value. “I love doing that. I'm getting to learn it all. I'm not particularly good at it yet, but I'm learning. Jewelry was not part of my past retail experience.”

Moving to Iowa from Illinois after her husband passed away, Pat was already familiar with the Des Moines area because both her children attended Drake University. Pat moved to West Des Moines to be closer to her daughter, who lives in the Des Moines area. Her son lives in New Jersey. Pat has five grandchildren.

EveryStep Giving Tree is always looking for enthusiastic volunteers who can commit to at least four hours a week. To learn about the many volunteer opportunities at EveryStep Giving Tree, please email store manager Michele Bronson or call 515-270-2414.

Purchases and donations at EveryStep Giving Tree support EveryStep, a nonprofit organization serving Iowans since 1908. Through more than 30 programs and services, our professional team offers education to young moms; assistance to immigrants and refugees; wellness services in communities; in-home care to people who are ill, injured or facing the end of life; and compassionate support to families during times of grief and loss.

If you or someone you know is struggling to find the support they need, please contact EveryStep at 515-558-9946 or complete the commitment-free, confidential “Find Care” form here. EveryStep staff will follow up with a phone call to answer your questions and provide help.