ReStore Holiday Gift Guide

If you’re struggling with the process of giving this year, consider stopping by the ReStore to try an idea from this guide. The ReStore makes for a reliable source of secondhand gifts that support safe, affordable housing with every purchase. No matter what you buy, your patronage allows us to help more families spend the holidays in the comfort of their own home. How’s that for a gift?

ReThinking the Holidays

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The holiday season is upon us!  And after rethinking how we do almost everything this past year, many of us now find ourselves rethinking how to do the holidays.  Whether you are staying at home for the first time ever and wondering how to celebrate without gathering, or whether your values no longer align with the traditional consumption and spending-centric holiday model- the ReStore has a few re-thought ideas on how to do the holidays this year… maybe with a little more reuse and home time, and a little less spending and gathering.

2021 ReStore ReUse Contest Winners Announced

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We are pleased to announce the winners of its tenth annual ReStore ReUse Contest. Entries were judged on quality of design and execution; replicability of concept; clarity of description; and quality of photos.

Volunteers needed to build largest-ever neighborhood

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We are currently building New Heights, our most ambitious neighborhood to-date, and community volunteers are invited to help build. Take an active role in ensuring everyone has an affordable place to call home by learning new skills or honing existing ones while working alongside community-minded people and future Habitat homeowners.

Asheville Habitat has been bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope for nearly four decades. The reasons people donate their time and talent to Asheville Habitat are as varied as the volunteer themselves. Those who so enjoyed volunteering once on the Women Build House that they keep coming back every week. Those that spent decades in a corporate boardroom and simply want to do something totally different in retirement. Those that work for a company that sponsors Asheville Habitat and therefore have the opportunity to participate in an employee build day. Those that are in high school and learning about our region’s affordable housing crisis. Those putting faith into action by working on a house their church sponsors. How people come to volunteer with Asheville Habitat is wide-ranging. Why they continue to volunteer is the same: Comradery. Meeting the families. Fulfillment. Fun. Making a difference. Feeling part of something bigger.

If you are ready to be the change you want to see in the world, learn more and sign up now or call 828.251.5702. “Volunteers are truly an extension of our staff,” shares Construction Services Volunteer Manager Stephanie Wallace. “We offer year-round opportunities for those age 16+. It’s hard work, but very rewarding. Stepping back at the end of the day, you can SEE the difference you’ve made and feel proud about it.”

If construction isn’t your cup of tea, contact Carrie at 828.210.9381 or cburgin@ashevillehabitat.org to learn about volunteer opportunities in the Asheville and Weaverville ReStores. Proceeds from ReStore sales support Habitat’s building programs, so your volunteer efforts there directly support affordable housing, too. Volunteer positions include customer service, such as running the cash register and providing sales support on the floor; intake and receiving; sorting and processing donations; testing and repairing appliances; and other fun opportunities. Learn more and sign up today!

Diane Bryson’s Comeback Story

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The epitome of a “when life gives you lemons” story, Asheville Habitat volunteer, Diane Bryson shares about how volunteering with Asheville Habitat has helped make lemonade out of some lemons that life has thrown at her. Her attitude is an inspiration, and her power tools skills aren’t too shabby either!

Piper’s Perspective

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If you scheduled a donation pick-up by the Asheville ReStore at your home or business sometime in the last 18 years, odds are you probably spoke with Piper Parker, the ReStore’s Scheduling Coordinator. In a recent conversation, Piper offhandedly mentioned, “I remember when I had to ask for step-by-step directions to each home or business, and then communicate the directions for each stop to the truck drivers every day. Things have changed a lot since then.” It was a casual statement, but it brought to mind how much the ReStore has grown and transformed since 2003 when Piper started.

While Piper currently logs around 165 calls each week, or 8,500 calls every year, (and that’s only counting the calls that result in a scheduled truck!), her job hasn’t always been like this. When she first started, she was scheduling about 60 stops a week for one truck, and she was in charge of all volunteer scheduling, as well. Eventually a dedicated Volunteer Coordinator was hired and Piper began to devote all her time to scheduling donation pick-ups by ReStore trucks. One thing is for sure, her old method of hand-writing directions for each pick-up definitely wasn’t going to keep up with the growth trajectory the ReStore was on. Thankfully, over the years Piper has eagerly innovated her process, and with the help of technology, effectively tripled the number of annual donation pick-ups.

Piper Parker

Piper in 2012

After spending her first few years handwriting directions for the truck drivers, Piper heard of a volunteer named Dick Milholland who built a computer program for Asheville Habitat’s Construction Services department. She reached out and asked if it would be possible for him to do the same thing for ReStore truck scheduling. Soon, with Mr. Milholland’s help, Piper began entering directions into the computer which generated a printed multi-page document for the truck drivers to reference each day. Over the next 5 years, the Asheville ReStore would add two more trucks to their fleet, tripling the number of weekly donation pick-ups. GPS systems were also eventually added to the trucks so that Piper was then only printing a one-page list of stops for the drivers each day, without any added directions.

Soon after the addition of the second truck, the ReStore surpassed the $1 million mark in gross revenue, confirming the

Piper Pouring Crete

Piper pouring concrete during a Global Village Trip to Guatemala

importance of expansion and innovation. Higher ReStore revenue meant more families served. With the addition of a third truck, the ReStore began advertising their free donation pick-up service on television and things really picked up! Throughout this period of intense growth, Piper used Mr. Milholland’s homemade program for scheduling trucks until the ReStore upgraded to a Point of Sale (POS) system with built-in scheduling functionality in 2015. Currently the system is so streamlined that the trucks start each day at the farthest point, increasing their weight as they get closer to the ReStore in order to most efficiently use their fuel.

As with everything else, growing into scheduling 165 stops every week has certainly been a process. But Piper Parker has been there, willing to innovate and adapt at every stage.

Piper Parker 1 2003

Piper during her first year with the ReStore 2003

 

Piper will celebrate 18 years with the Asheville ReStore this June. Next time you call to schedule a pick-up, be sure to congratulate her on 18 years of a job well done!

 

The Man Behind the Hardware

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During a year when ReStore truck crews were not been able to enter homes to remove large furniture items or appliances, it’s not a surprise that Construction and Building Materials became the top selling merchandise category at the Asheville Area ReStores. Hardware items- tools, fixtures, fasteners and every item in between, make up a huge part of the Building Materials section.  But while ReStore staff have been spread thin with far fewer volunteers able to serve than usual, John Harvin has been the Man Behind the Hardware this past year, keeping our store’s shelves full of every hardware item that gets donated.

John Harvin lived in Germany for 30 years, managing supplies for a military school, before retiring in Asheville in 2014. He knew he wanted to volunteer during retirement, and had heard of Habitat for Humanity’s work around the world. After reaching out to the ReStore volunteer coordinator, Carrie Burgin in 2015, she quickly lined up a time for John to come tour Asheville ReStore operations.

John Harvin

John Harvin

While touring the Restore with Carrie, John noticed an area piled high with boxes full of every manner of hardware items. Carrie explained the hardware processing area often became backed up as staff weren’t able to devote enough time to the tedious job of sorting through thousands of fasteners and fixtures, as well as identifying and pricing hand tools of all types and ages. Truly, from large, vintage table saws, routers, and joiners to brand new power tools, to circa 1930s hammers and wrenches, the Asheville ReStores receive a remarkable array and volume of donated hardware items. And, beginning in 2015 thanks to John joining the ReStore volunteer team, hardware boxes no longer pile up in the processing area, but rather get sorted and priced and hit the sales floor right away!

 

Of course, as with everything else, Covid has complicated the process just a bit. The little time staff were able to devote to hardware before Covid quickly diminished as volunteers were no longer able to serve at the ReStore during open store hours. Instead of his usual 3-4 days a week, split between the Asheville and Weaverville ReStores, John began volunteering 5 days a week in order to try and keep up with the influx of hardware merchandise. John currently volunteers several hours each day, Monday–Friday, and is just managing to keep the boxes from stacking too high.

John’s almost single-handed effort to process donated hardware has paid off in a huge way for the ReStores. Many customers shop at the Restores almost exclusively for the purpose of finding hardware items for their building jobs or home improvements. In fact, over the past year, with home improvements at an all-time high, the Asheville and Weaverville ReStores sold a combined $219,352 in hardware items alone! This was largely due to the time, effort, and commitment of John Harvin. He realized quickly that items sell much better once they’ve been cleaned up, and has gone above and beyond to take the time to package bulk items and clean up older hand tools in order to present them in a way that highlights their worth. In addition, he diligently researches items he’s not familiar with, especially larger vintage tools, in order to accurately price them according to their value.

John Harvin With A Million

John Harvin With A Million Dollar Bill

As with many volunteers, after five years of service John has caught the ReStore treasure hunting bug! He pulled a 1 Million dollar bill out of his pocket that he found tucked in a donated tool box right before sitting down for this interview,  “It’s always interesting, especially when a bunch of boxes come in from the same person- you just never know what you’re going to find!” But when asked what he enjoys the most about volunteering with the ReStores, John doesn’t hesitate in his answer, “It’s just being around people. The staff at both Stores are great, they’re super friendly and interesting to talk to, and the same goes with other retirees. Having people my age with similar interests to talk to about their life, that’s definitely the best part. And of course knowing that what I do may help a family get into their own house, that’s the biggest reward.”

As with everything at the ReStore, the reward is threefold. Donors dropping off hardware items save their used items from ending up in the landfill and shoppers get a great price on new and vintage finds, all while funding Asheville Habitat’s new building and home repair programs.

Thank you John, for your amazing contribution over the past 5 years!

Deconstruction Volunteers: A 2020 Success Story

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If Donation and Deconstruction Manager Michelle Smith had been asked one year ago to predict the fruitfulness of Asheville Habitat’s Deconstruction program, her answer might not have been very positive. Smack in the middle of a 10 week shut down, the only deconstruction going on at the ReStore consisted of Michelle meeting the occasional contractor outside of shuttered ReStore doors to help unload donations of salvaged kitchens or bathrooms. From that vantage point, the year ahead for Deconstruction seemed pretty bleak.

Truck With Team

Michelle, Kevin, Bill, and Mary Kent on a jobsite.

Indeed, the restrictions in place for the next six months made in-home deconstruction jobs impossible for the ReStore team. When the decision was made in October to conduct deconstruction jobs in unoccupied homes only, Michelle was shocked by the community’s response. In 2020, the ReStore’s deconstruction team conducted more jobs than the previous year, in about half the time.

How is it possible, you may ask, to essentially double the productivity of a program that relies on entering homes and businesses in a year marked by a global pandemic that restricts exactly that ability?

The answer is quite simple: amazing volunteers.

In a year in which every single Asheville Habitat program was forced to pause or drastically reduce its volunteer capacity, volunteers for the small Decon team doubled, providing the capacity to meet the demand that unexpectedly arose from a community suddenly spending a lot more time at home, staring at their old kitchen cabinets.

Michelle And Kevin Ig

Michelle And Kevin unloading tools.

Kevin Campbell volunteered in the Asheville ReStore donation lane for about a year before the Covid shutdown began last March. He commented, “I missed the feel of community and comradery with the staff and other volunteers. With my background in the building trades I could have easily volunteered to help build Habitat houses but I wanted a different experience so the Restore was a perfect fit for me. Getting involved with the decon team allowed me to use my skills and help further Habitat’s mission.” And, indeed it has. Kevin has participated in numerous deconstruction jobs each month since last October, and his level of expertise, especially in items with detailed carpentry work, has been greatly appreciated.

 

Deconstruction jobs range from small, 2 hour jobs removing a few bathroom vanities, to multi-day, whole house

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Tom, Roger, Michelle and Mary Kent kitchen cabinets.

jobs with kitchens, bathrooms, doors, fixtures and more being removed and transplanted for sale at the Asheville ReStore. While for smaller jobs, 1-2 volunteers if perfectly sufficient, for larger jobs that spread over a whole home, additional volunteers make a huge difference in the amount of time a job takes, and the amount of ReStore resources- staff and truck hours- that are tied up. Michelle Smith commented on how incredible it is to work with such a professional team of volunteers who really know the value of time and who work hard to do a great job in a very efficient time. “They’ve even started joking with me when they complete a job in under two hours, saying they need more of a challenge!” Asking for more of a challenge in 2020 points to the high level of competence the volunteers bring to the team!

Teamwork

Roger, Kevin and Tom removing kitchen cabinets.

The result of these volunteers signing up to enter unoccupied homes to extract kitchens, bathrooms, doors, and more was a trickledown effect that benefitted homeowners of all backgrounds. People donating deconstructed items received great service at minimal cost and were able to divert their usable items from the landfill. Those who purchased deconstructed items at the ReStore found well preserved, quality products at a fraction of the cost of buying new. And all the proceeds from each sale help fund Asheville Habitat new home building and home repair programs.

The ReStore Deconstruction volunteer team certainly worked a monumental feat in an incredibly challenging year. But you know what they say about challenges… they just make you stronger, and thanks to an amazing team of volunteers, the Deconstruction program is poised and ready for whatever this year has in store!

The Asheville Habitat family would like to extend a huge thank you to the Deconstruction volunteer team, comprised of Bob Jordan, Charlie St. Clair, Charlie Franck, Bill Bumby, Kevin Campbell, Roger Gauthier, and Tom Weaver. Thank you for all your amazing, hard work in 2020!!

 

 

 

Thank you to the 2020 ReStore Business Partners!

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The Asheville Habitat team is so grateful for all the community business partners who generously donate new and used merchandise to the ReStore each year. ReStore Business partners help build a strong foundation for helping families build strength, stability, and self-reliance through affordable homes. Thank you so much to each ReStore business partner – we appreciate your partnership!

Volunteer Spotlight: Brother Tom Sheehy

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Brother Tom Sheehy has gone above and beyond in his commitment to volunteering with the Weaverville ReStore during an incredibly difficult year. Serving five full days each week, Brother Tom’s generosity has made a huge impact on the Weaverville ReStore team and on the ReStore itself. Read more about this spotlight on ReStore volunteer, Brother Tom Sheehy.