By Jonathan Dermid
The Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore is privileged to have a volunteer who embodies the spirit of being a “jack of all trades.” In his time with the ReStore, Ron Shimberg has volunteered in the bookstore, on the sales floor, and in the receiving department loading and unloading trucks.
Now, Ron can usually be found diligently cleaning the parking lots of both the ReStore and the Administrative building, a task that he took upon himself after noticing a tendency for mess.
“I noticed that there was some garbage in the parking lot, so I started cleaning the parking lot on Thursday, and rewarding myself with volunteering in the bookstore on Saturday,” Ron said. “No one asked me to do it, but I like doing it. And it’s important to me to make this place look nice, because the parking lot is one of the first things people are going to see.” He soon realized though, that once a week wasn’t enough for the parking lot and something had to give.
Giving up the bookstore was hard for Ron, as he says that he had a great time volunteering there. “It was hard giving up my bookstore shift, because it was my favorite gig in the ReStore,” Ron said. “But now I can really make an even bigger difference, by cleaning the lots twice a week.”
While in the bookstore, Ron said that he experienced and contributed to a warm and welcoming environment. “When I was in the bookstore, it was a great vibe,” he said. “I would engage the people and I would have them dancing. I even had one volunteer dancing with his dog!”
Ron attributes this partially to his love of music, which led him to create a lively atmosphere in the bookstore (which also sells vinyl albums and CDs) with the records he would play. “I’m a musician. I play blues harmonica and I’ve been in 3 bands around town,” Ron said. “That’s my soul, music. I love it.”
Ron ended up as a ReStore volunteer due to a total fluke, as he had just recently moved to Asheville and took a wrong turn. “I escaped South Florida, and was staying at my sister’s before I got my own place,” he said. “She sent me on a run to AB Tech, and I didn’t know where I was going and ended up going the wrong way and happened to pass by the ReStore. They had a sign that said ‘volunteers wanted,’ so I arranged to volunteer the very next day.”
In Florida, Ron worked with online sales and marketing, selling data and designing web content for Fortune 500 companies and helping to pioneer embedded advertising in email services. Even with the long hours he worked then, he still found time to volunteer in Florida with an organization called Horses for the Handicapped.
Ron has always really liked doing good things for the community, and he knew he wanted to do the same when he came to Asheville in March of 2013, which he considers a huge turning point in his life.
“Everything changed when I moved here,” he said. “I really dug the vibe and the energy of Asheville right off the bat.” Ron says that same atmosphere permeates the entire Habitat for community as well, which made him feel welcome almost immediately.
“I like the relationships I’ve made here, not just with the staff and volunteers but with customers too. I’ve even become friends with some of the customers.”
Ron has always taken a great deal of pride in his volunteer positions, whether it be making the bookstore customers smile and dance, moving merchandise in the receiving area, or keeping the parking lots clean. To Ron, all of these tasks are his way of making a positive difference for what he calls his family.
We’re glad Ron made a wrong turn back in 2013! We are fortunate to have him as part of the Habitat family and appreciate his ongoing commitment to service, no matter the task.