Making a Difference, Locally and Globally

By Madeline McIntyre

The ReStore is thanking a long-time volunteer and top-shelf recruiter this week. Sherry Griffith (picture above R, and C in group shot) has been volunteering at the ReStore for ten years now and has no plan on stopping anytime soon.

“It’s just fun,” Sherry says. “It certainly beats just being at home and not knowing what you’re going to do.”

Griffith spent her career as a special education teacher. After her retirement, she decided to begin volunteering in the community. She worked with another Asheville organization building houses, but found her true calling as an Asheville Habitat ReStore volunteer.

While Sherry eventually found her place in the front of the store, there was a brief period when she worked in the bookstore. She thought she would enjoy the quiet and being able to play her own music, but that was a short-lived experiment. She missed the continuous interaction that the front of the store brings.

“Everybody loves to tell you what they’re going to do with what they bought,” Sherry says. “You know, everybody’s doing unique things like buying coffee cups and saucers and making bird feeders out of them.”

You can find Sherry every Thursday morning working at the register, setting up displays, and talking with anyone and everyone. She has one of those magnetic personalities that naturally draws a crowd, including more ReStore volunteers. In her ten years, Sherry recruited three volunteers – all of them now volunteering on Thursdays.

Her pitch is simple.

“I just talk about how much fun it is, and that you get to meet people and see what they’re buying and what they’re doing with all their fun stuff,” Sherry says. “And they all need to do something else with their lives, so I talked them into it.”

But Sherry isn’t keeping her passion for volunteering and helping others in one place. She and her husband have served as a host family for Haitian youth who have come to Asheville through Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF), and last year she went to Costa Rica with LEAF. She met families and provided connections for those children who will travel to the area for future festivals. “It was cool, and it was fun,” Sherry says. “An average tourist would never get that experience.”

Costa Rica is just the beginning though. This weekend, she and several other volunteers are heading to Guatemala as part of a Habitat for Humanity International mission. Led by Asheville Area Habitat’s Joel Johnson, Sherry and the other volunteers will help Habitat Guatemala build one-room cinderblock homes and install clean burning stoves.

Her friend and fellow ReStore volunteer Rhonda McKenna is participating in this service trip, too. Sherry credits her opportunities for traveling to the connections she’s made while volunteering, saying that it’s difficult to travel by yourself, especially when her husband is still working. “I’m retired and one of my lifegoals was to travel more,” Sherry says. “And I’ve gotten to do that.”

We are incredibly lucky to have a volunteer who is so committed to the Habitat mission and bettering our community, locally and globally. We wish Sherry and the other volunteers luck and good wishes in Guatemala, but we are definitely going to miss her warmth and enthusiasm next week!