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Hall woman hopes to fund childrens advocacy group through thrift store
After suffering a traumatic brain injury, Clermont resident Phyllis Johnston wants to write a book about her experience. She also plans to open up a thrift store for foster care/CASAs.

After hearing the heartfelt stories from children’s advocates at Christmas, a Hall County woman said she is trying to keep the donations going year-round.

Phyllis Johnston, who runs Trader Jacks Marketplace on Cleveland Highway with husband Sid, said she hopes to dedicate space and proceeds of the thrift store for Hall-Dawson CASA, the court-appointed special advocates.

“My heart just goes out to those people and those kids,” Johnston said.

Johnston had donated at Christmastime to the group, a volunteer organization providing Juvenile Court judges input on a foster care child’s wellbeing.

“Why do something just at Christmas? Why not do something year-round?” she asked.

She joined her husband at the thrift store after suffering a traumatic brain injury and leaving her previous career. She recalled a car pulling out in front of her in October 2012, before being woken up and taken to the hospital.

The aftermath was riddled with forgetting names and sometimes losing track of where she was driving.

“Sometimes I would call my husband, but then I didn’t even want to do that, so I would just turn around and go to the place where it became familiar again,” she said.

Years later, she said she is “leaps and bounds better,” though she still has issue with recall.

The plan for the thrift store is still in the early stages, CASA executive director Janet Walden said.

“She definitely has an interest in supporting CASA, which we certainly appreciate,” Walden said.

Johnston said her plan is to have a giant sale to make room and dedicate half of the space to the venture.

Outside of the CASA donations, Johnston said she would like to write a book sharing her experiences with brain injuries with other survivors.

“I want them to know it’s OK to feel like they do. I want them to know how to talk to their employers,” she said, claiming she endured discrimination following her injury.

The store is located at 5239 Cleveland Highway, in Clermont.