Michelle Donovan retired from her Disney job and got to work helping those in need in Tavares.

TAVARES — Michelle Donovan has felt a calling in her life to help people for more than 20 years, but it wasn’t until she walked away from a horrific car accident in 2017 that she decided to devote her life to something bigger.

“There was always an excuse for not doing it,” she said. “I didn’t have the means, life changes and ultimately just putting it off. But when I got in the accident, if you had seen the car you wouldn’t know how I survived.”

Donovan had been working at Disney but after the accident, her perspective on life changed.

“I kept feeling like I was just wasting my life in traffic and that there was so much more I was called to do,” she said.

Last September, Donovan retired from Disney to pursue her dream of opening a thrift store that would make a difference in the community.

“I would tell people what I was trying to do and they were donating to me left and right,” she said. “I didn’t even have a store yet, so my house looked like 'Sanford and Son,' storing it all.”

In March, Donovan opened the Building Lives Through Faith thrift store in Tavares with hopes of being a blessing to those in need. She works with the Come As You Are ministry in Leesburg and offers bags of toiletries, backpacks and tents (when available) for the homeless.

They also donate clothing for people in need. Donovan told of a time that she was able to donate clothes to a pancreatic cancer patient who had lost so much weight that nothing fit her. With the help of some customers, they delivered them to her along with some food.

“God is doing great things in our little store,” Donovan said. “So far it’s been a blessing. People keep bringing us donations, which lets us bless more people.”

Donovan said she is extremely thankful for her husband, Tim, who has supported her during this adventure, even though she is not bringing in an income for herself. Also, her daughter and mother-in-law pitch in to help with the store.

Building Lives Through Faith, 375 E. Burleigh Blvd., Tavares, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 352-551-6655 or visit the Building Lives Through Faith Facebook page.