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A Million Dollar Idea

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By Ariane Kjellquist

The upper level of Asheville Habitat’s ReStore is regularly abuzz every other Wednesday around 2pm when the bi-monthly Silent Auction closes. But the level of excitement will be anything but typical on March 20th, when auction proceeds reach the $1M mark!

Call it “a million dollar idea” by retired teacher, self-proclaimed antiques freak, and ReStore volunteer Alan Williams (pictured above with Ann Justice) who was inspired by the TV program Antiques Roadshow. He recognized that some of the items donated to the ReStore held significant value to the right buyer. A Silent Auction, he believed, could help the ReStore raise more money for Asheville Habitat’s programs.

Williams has been spearheading the curation of each auction (there have been 278) since its May 18, 2005 inception. From rare items and collectible memorabilia to local art and handmade crafts, the auction has featured a cross-section of American history and pop culture. Each auction contains, on average, 65-70 items. Some, no one can even identify!

The most unique auction by most accounts was the Grove Park Inn auction, held in celebration of Asheville Habitat’s 30th Anniversary in 2013. All of the items were donated by the Grove Park Inn and included: purple velvet loungers, “car” couches, copper wall lights, a player piano, mannequins and dress forms, many whimsical floor and table lamps, leather club chairs, arts & craft-style furniture and more. It raised more than $13,000!

While staff readily embraced the Silent Auction concept from the start, they never anticipated its impact. “We never could have foreseen what Alan would build these past 13 years, or that it would gain such a loyal following from community members,” remarked ReStore Assistant Manager Susan Haynes who supports Alan and the auction volunteer crew, which includes Anne Justice and Rob Carroll. Donation processing staff and volunteers also help by keeping an eye out for items they think Alan may want to consider for the auction.

On Wednesday, March 20th at 1pm, guests will gather in the upper showroom of the ReStore to celebrate the auction’s $1 million milestone, recognize Alan Williams, and present ceremonial keys to Habitat’s newest homeowner, Courtney Hoglen. 

Silent Auction proceeds, like all ReStore proceeds, help fund Asheville Habitat’s affordable home building and home repair programs.

And the Winners are…

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The Asheville Habitat ReStore is pleased to announce the winners of its seventh annual ReStore ReUse Contest. Ranging from fire pits and bars to pet beds and benches and everything in between, the 32 entries were constructed predominantly of reused materials. A panel of five judges selected winners in six categories: Furniture, Homesteading, Live/Work Space, Home Décor, Youth, and Best in Show. A winner was also selected in an added category, Community Contribution. The 2018 winners are:

Best in Show – Philip Davis (Waynesville); A beautiful bar crafted from a piece of a 100 year old equestrian barn door and salvaged pallets and recycled metal pipe and iron.

Furniture – David Devine (Anderson, SC); A garden chair for his daughter crafted from recycled junk metal.

Homesteading – Gigi Presta (Weaverville); A greenhouse constructed of old doors from the ReStore, a dome top seen/found in a ditch while cycling, and wood scraps.

Live/Work Space – Jill Adams (Asheville); Turned an area that was a catchall for junk into an outside bar, entertainment area, and closet made from primarily salvaged wood.

Home Decor – Cindee and John Rudel (Asheville); A wood mural that references the mountains, trees, plants, streams and swimming holes that they love. It was crafted from recycled wood and scraps that were found during the renovation of their home. “We were inspired to create this wall for our sitting room in homage to the decades that Cindee’s grandfather (the previous owner of the house) spent working for the Drexel furniture plant starting in the 1940’s,” noted John.

Youth – Tootsie Jablonski (Candler); Called “Pine Play”, this loose-parts playground is made entirely of reused or creatively purposed materials that were donated from community members or Smith Mill Works. Although very simple, this area inspires hours of focused, team-work-driven play as children build and re-build to create whatever type of play they want.

Community Contribution – Michael Van Hall (Weaverville); In this added category, the winner was selected for the community resource he created for this neighborhood – a Little Free Library made from an old tool cabinet, salvaged cabinet doors, and salvaged stamped tin ceiling tile.

Photos of all entries, including the winners, can be seen in this FlickR album.

Entries were judged on quality of design and execution; replicability of concept; clarity of description; and quality of photos. Winner received gift certificates to the Habitat ReStore.

The judging panel included:
Scott Stetson, ReStore General Manager
Joel Johnson, Habitat’s Home Repair Manager
Blake Cloninger, VP of Biltmore Iron & Metal
Peter Steurer, ReUse Contest Winner (2017-Homesteading)
Elaine Sargent, Habitat homeowner and reuse enthusiast

A Great Retirement Plan

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By Maria Angell

Volunteering with the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore is great for retirees – like Lee Fadden and Jan Wright – who have, combined, nearly 50 years of volunteer experience with the ReStore!

Lee started volunteering with the Asheville ReStore in 1997 after she had retired from Eaton Corporation and decided to give her time to a worthy cause. She currently works in the ReStore’s housewares department where she cleans and prices items. Lee enjoys her volunteer position because of the people she works with and knowing that her “efforts will help to provide homes for those who would not be able to afford them without the help of Habitat.”

Jan’s volunteer work with the Asheville ReStore began nearly 28 years ago in 1990 after she retired from Mission Hospital.

“I began volunteering because I felt I needed and wanted to give back because I have been blessed in many ways. Habitat appealed to me because it was at that time a Christian organization based on biblical principles, helping to provide homes for people who, without their help, would never own their own home.”

Jan works alongside Lee in the housewares department. She enjoys getting to socialize with people who have the same goals. She too finds her volunteer work rewarding because she knows she is helping contribute to the funding Habitat needs to build homes. Volunteers help keep Habitat’s costs down, and proceeds from ReStore sales support Habitat’s home building and home repair programs.

“I would recommend volunteering at Habitat. You have great people to work with and at the same time, you provide a needed service,” Jan concluded.

Thank you Lee and Jan for the combined 50 years of service you have given to the Asheville ReStore! We appreciate both of you and all of your hard work!

Interested in joining Habitat’s volunteer team? Click here to learn about opportunities.

 

Local Artist Pat Perkerson Donates to the ReStore Silent Auction

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By Alex Cox

Here at the ReStore, we always try to showcase a diverse selection of unique and rare items in our bi-weekly Silent Auction, and this week we’d like mention a particular artist who donated generously to the current auction selection.

We are grateful to Pat Perkerson for donating a large amount of her personal artwork. Pieces range from paintings and collages to sculptures and pottery. These items are currently open to bidding, and this Silent Auction ends Wednesday, April 19th at 2 pm.

About the Artist:
Pat was born in what is now Zimbabwe, and has lived in England, Australia, and the Middle East. She now resides permanently in Asheville, but her work often reflects the influence of her travels. She attended art school in Australia, and holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from California State University, Chico. She has also worked in the fields of archaeological illustration and education.

Her work includes both two-dimensional pieces such as paintings, and three-dimensional ones such as sculptures and lifelike figures. She also creates porcelain dishes by hand which are painted and then protected with a food-safe glaze.

Pat’s work has sold internationally, but it is represented primarily at the Miya Gallery in Weaverville, N.C. and the Artist’s Coop in Laurens, S.C.

We couldn’t be more grateful for Pat’s generous donation of art for our auction!

If you have items that you’d like to donate, whether it’s your artwork or another kind of unique treasure, feel free to contact the ReStore at 828.254.6706. Proceeds from our Silent Auction, like all other ReStore proceeds, help fund Habitat’s construction of affordable housing in Buncombe County.

View Pat’s artwork below:

Volunteer Spotlight: Susie Emerick

By Alex Cox

Every Tuesday, Susie Emerick arrives at the ReStore and begins organizing and preparing her work space. Susie works in the linens area of the store, a department that receives, cleans, and prices various fabrics that are available for purchase. These tasks aren’t for everyone, but Susie enjoys volunteering her time in this capacity.

Susie’s days of giving back to her community through volunteerism began more than 30 years ago. Before moving to Asheville more than a decade ago, Susie lived in Baltimore for 30 years. She volunteered with various organizations there, including a hospital. “I used to volunteer at the Children’s Hospital in Baltimore, which was very important,” Susie explained. “We usually received babies that had had surgeries or other procedures, and they were with us for a while before going home.”

Her volunteering with Habitat for Humanity began in Brunswick County (NC) before starting with Asheville Area Habitat more than 12 years ago. She and her husband volunteer on house builds occasionally, but most of her work with Habitat has been with the ReStore.

“When I first called to volunteer (in Asheville), this was the only department that needed help,” Susie said. “This is good because cashiers and other volunteers often need to stay all day and get here early, but I don’t have to. I can be kind of behind the scenes, which I like.”

The ReStore utilizes the help of 140 volunteers every week. Many are like Susie – rarely seen by customers because they are busy in the backrooms. But their work as just as important as the work done by volunteers on the showroom floor. Susie describes a normal day of volunteering in the linens area, and the importance of behind-the-scenes work at the ReStore. “We clean the items, organize them, and hang them up. After that, we determine what sizes things are. Customers want to know that information, and it’s hard to just judge what size sheets or other linens are. They need to be measured.”

“My favorite part of working here is that it keeps me busy, but it’s also relaxed. I’ve volunteered in many places in the past, and I like the pace here,” said Susie. “It’s always something different and it’s always changing. It’s never boring.”

Susie also volunteers with Animal Haven, a local organization that receives abused or neglected farm animals and domestic animals such as cats and dogs, and provides them shelter, food, and rehabilitation. They also work with other organizations such as Meals on Wheels and New Leash on Life to provide support for low-income households that have pets. “I like the hands-on work at Animal Haven,” Susie explained. “I clean the habitats and feed the animals, and recently we did a metal run, where we do a large recycling project with aluminum.”

So on this Thank You Thursday, we thank Susie for her service with the Asheville Habitat ReStore and other organizations that need hard working and passionate volunteers to help them reach their goals. She is committed to making a difference in her community, and we thank her for putting in the time and the energy to do so.

If you’re interested in volunteering with Asheville Habitat, please click here to learn more.

Meaningful Mondays

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By Alex Cox

Saturday in the ReStore brings crowds of customers browsing the showroom for unique furniture, appliances, and other home goods. The donation drop-off lane is an equally bustling place. On Monday, after the excitement has settled, a group of core volunteers strive to set the pace for the week. Long-time volunteers (pictured above L to R) Angela Lepro, Resa Holt and Meredith Norwood, with their family-like bond, help get the ReStore started off right for the week.

“Saturday is a very busy day”, said Angela, a retired nurse. “So on Monday, there’s a lot of housekeeping to do, refilling the drawers, getting everything ready for the week ahead.”

Resa has been volunteering with the ReStore since 2008, but she was familiar with the ReStore well before that. She was a regular customer who visited the store frequently. “Five years previous to volunteering here I was a teacher. Every Friday, on my way home from work, I would stop and get my Habitat fix,” Resa shared. “I always had it in the back of my mind that when I retired, this was where I wanted to volunteer.”

Meredith has been volunteering with the ReStore for 5 years, and Angela for 13. When a group works together for that long, it’s easy to see how strong bonds can form. Angela believes there is a greater reason why they have all been working together for so long. “I think the longevity comes from not only believing in Habitat’s philosophy, but that we have become a family. When you’re working with each other every week, you miss that person if they don’t come in.”

Barbara Geiser, another core volunteer and retired realtor, says that having a bond with your co-volunteers is crucial to reaching the goals of the ReStore and of Habitat for Humanity. “There is an interesting blend of outward social caring and internal social camaraderie,” Barbara acknowledged. “Of course we all come for the building of homes, and meeting of partner families, which we get to do. That camaraderie, once it’s formed with your group, is what keeps everybody coming back.”

These core volunteers also believe in teamwork, and recognize that the ReStore depends on everyone working together. To keep the ReStore running like a well-oiled machine, it takes every person’s contribution. Whether behind the counter, unloading donations, or doing maintenance and housekeeping , every role matters when working together to reach a collective goal. “It’s all a team effort,” Meredith noted. “There’s no point in selling anything if there isn’t someone to get it out the door and into someone’s car. And then there are the folks that receive donations, price them, and put them on the floor. It takes a lot.”

We thank these core volunteers who come in each and every Monday to get the week started right. They inspire us not only with their consistent hard work, but also with showing us the importance of having a family in the work/volunteer place. Having a group you can depend on is important. Having one that you can confide in and make memories with is extra special. And it’s what makes Monday morning something to look forward to.

If you’re interested in meeting new people, making new friends and helping neighbors in need of decent, affordable housing, check out our volunteer opportunities.

A Treasured Partnership

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By Kristen Keefer

For ten years, Asheville Area Habitat has been partnering with Asheville Hampton Inn. The hotel network includes three Hampton Inns and one Homewood Suites by Hilton. Brenda Durden (pictured above), Chief Operating Officer for nearly 27 years, established this partnership ten years ago when her office reached out to Habitat about a renovation project. Brenda explained, “We have a great desire to give back to our community and support the work of several local organizations and Habitat was a great fit for us.”

When it is time to renovate one of the four hotel locations, Brenda reaches out to Habitat. Brenda shared, “We have donated thousands of items through the years with the hope of supporting a great organization doing great things in our community.”

ReStore associates and volunteers led by ReStore Donations Manager Jeff Bridgman or Deconstruction Specialist Dylan Haynes, assist in the quick removal of items like lamps, tables, sofas, artwork, televisions, cabinets, and granite tops. Brenda noted, “The team at Habitat comes in ready to jump in and help with whatever it takes to quickly remove items. Jeff coordinates the best people to handle every aspect of our donations. He is on site, so appreciative and easy to work with.  He makes our partnership one that we treasure.”

In addition to removing furniture and accessories, the ReStore’s Deconstruction team, led by Haynes, has also removed installations like kitchen cabinets and bath vanities from select properties.

By partnering with Habitat, Asheville Hampton Inn ensures that the items removed will not be discarded into a landfill. Instead, the donated items are sold affordably at the ReStore and proceeds contribute to funding affordable housing in our community. Both of these aspects are important to Brenda and align with Hampton Inn’s community-oriented values. Brenda explained, “By donating we know we are making a decision that is best for the landfill and helping Habitat be successful.”

Brenda has done an incredible job establishing and continuing a strong partnership between the ReStore and Asheville Hampton Inn. We are grateful for her efforts, as well as the partnership. On behalf of the ReStore, thank you Brenda, for all that you do! And, for the generosity of Asheville Hampton Inn and all the hardworking people that help make this alliance possible. We look forward to continued partnership in the years to come!

If you’re interested in becoming a ReStore Business Partner, please click here to learn more.

One Volunteer Who Makes a Big Difference

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By Kristen Keefer

Entering into her 23rd year of volunteering at the Asheville ReStore, Susan Diehn remains fresh and energetic in her role. Recruited by a friend, Susan began volunteering at Habitat’s when the store was at its previous downtown location on Biltmore Avenue (pictured there, above L). Within her first year, she was volunteering her time from open to close every Tuesday.

As an experienced volunteer, Susan mentors new volunteers at the ReStore registers. She has held a vital role in helping many volunteers learn the ropes while they become more comfortable assisting shoppers.

For Susan, interacting with customers is one of the highlights of her position. She explained, “We try to be so welcoming to our customers, it’s important. We want their journey to be enjoyable and for them to come back.” Having someone as caring, friendly, and kind as Susan to greet and serve guests is of great value.

The Asheville Habitat ReStore is one of the most successful ReStores in the nation, in part because of dedicated volunteers like Susan.

Her caring personality drives her to serve her community and continues to bring her back to the ReStore. She knows that the livelihood of families, as well as their ability to thrive, begins with a stable place to call home. Because proceeds from the ReStore help fund Habitat’s building programs, her volunteer service directly impacts Habitat’s ability to fulfill its mission. Susan explained while joyfully smiling, “The children just bloom once they have a place to live and a neighborhood to play with other children.”

Susan shared how much she has enjoyed being able to work alongside future Habitat homeowners. Habitat’s homeownership program requires future homeowners to complete “sweat equity” (volunteer) hours, and some of their hours are often completed in the ReStore. Susan described becoming better acquainted with homeowner families as “so special”!

Susan has dedicated much of her time and self to service. In years past, she also served on Asheville Habitat’s Events Committee. And, in addition to her service with Habitat, she was once deeply involved with Interlace, a previously available housing program for women and children experiencing homelessness due to domestic violence.

When asked what aspect of volunteering she found most rewarding, Susan started to reply, “Knowing I’m making a difference” before quickly stopping herself. Following a short pause she continued by saying “I hope I am making a difference. I want to make a difference.”

The impact that Susan has made on the lives of others, both directly and indirectly, is vast and continues to grow week after week and year after year. If there’s one thing that’s certain, it is that Susan Diehn makes a difference in her community- a BIG difference! Thank you, Susan for being such a dedicated, knowledgeable, and giving volunteer. The ReStore is so fortunate to have you on board!

If you’re interested in volunteering, please click here to read about opportunities.

 

Side by Side for 17 Years and Counting

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by Jonathan Dermid

At the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore, we have been diligently working for 25 years to fund our cause – affordable housing. As we have shown in previous blog profiles, none of this would be possible without the work of our wonderful volunteers. Some of our volunteers have even been here long enough to help us grow from the small Home Store in downtown Asheville to the expansive, multi-level ReStore we have today.

Lee Fadden (pictured, L) and Jan Wright (pictured, R) are two of these volunteers, having been here for 17 and 25 years, respectively. In Jan’s case, she has been volunteering with us since our inception, and Lee for only a few years less.

“We were downtown first, and when we had stuff to price, we just had a little tiny area and an old farm sink,” Lee said of her time at the Home Store downtown.

After retiring from a career at Eaton Corporation, Lee found that she wanted something new to do.

“I retired and I wanted something to do, and I believe in what Habitat does in terms of helping people and making homes affordable,” she said. This worked out well for Lee, because she was good friends with Jan even before volunteering.

“Jan is one of my best friends, and she’s been here since they opened downtown,” Lee said. “So when I was looking to do something, Jan suggested Habitat to me and I’ve been here ever since.”

Today, they volunteer side-by-side in the housewares department, cleaning and preparing various home goods for sale, just as they have for the past 17 years.

There has been a great deal of looking back the ReStore’s history in light of the store’s 25th Anniversary. It has been encouraging to see that not only have we grown in our ability to both promote and fulfill our mission, but that some aspects have remained the same, like the commitment of many of our volunteers. No matter how we grow and change throughout the years, it’s nice to know that there is a solid foundation of caring individuals like Jan and Lee that keep our cause alive in the community.  And for that, we thank them.

Celebrating Our ReStore Volunteers

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by Jonathan Dermid

The bonding and teamwork among our volunteers is a common thread that links these blog profiles. Every week it seems, our volunteers share a similar sentiment – they love to volunteer because not only do they support the Habitat cause, but they also genuinely enjoy the bond they have with fellow volunteers.

So, it was very fulfilling to have so many of our volunteers under one roof as they ate, drank, and shared each others’ company at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Party at Highland Brewing Company. The event was graciously catered with homemade food from Alice Donnelly, chair of the Events Committee (and retired Asheville Area Habitat Accountant). The party also served as a way for us to celebrate the milestones of certain volunteers who have been with our affiliate for 5, 10, and 15 years.

The Enders, a partner family we highlighted in a previous blog post, offered remarks of gratitude before the awards ceremony. “We desired a home for a long time,” Michelle Ender said. “It’s a real blessing, and it changes our future completely. I’m very thankful that my children will have a place to call home.”

Michelle also shared her own experience in volunteering at the ReStore, saying “it really feels like a big family when I’m there.”

Lew Kraus, executive director of Asheville Area Habitat, shared a few words about how volunteering contributes to and ultimately shapes the work of Habitat. “I’m here to salute you for the wonderful things you have done and continue to do,” he said. “I reflect back on the many years I’ve spent here, and the true metrics of success are measured in the words of the Enders family. I don’t know how to measure the metrics when a family can come home at night, put their feet up, and say this is my home.”

While the event celebrated all ReStore volunteers, a handful were called out an recognized for longevity in service. Receiving the 5 year milestone award were Marge Marsh, Sheila Ray, Wally Lee, Norm Madden, Anne Tansey, Dick Hipp, Bill Kalavorich, and Tom Thompson. Denise Goodman and Sheri Waters received the 10 year award, getting their names on a plaque in addition to receiving a congratulatory pin. And Joe Kane, a volunteer of 15 years, received a hand-made copper tile (with a house design) to commemorate his many years of volunteer service.

Finally a very special award, the “Iron Man” award, was presented to our volunteer of 25 years, Allen Laws. ReStore General Manager Scott Stetson described him as being “just like family to us at the ReStore, and I think he gets as much out of helping us, as we do out of helping him.”

And so the night wound down, with the volunteers and staff gradually going their separate ways, the spirit of giving and selflessness filling the room. In only a couple hours’ time, the entire mission of Habitat for Humanity was conveyed by a simple dinner party, because without the efforts of the volunteers, there would be no party; there would be no Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity; there would be no homeowners receiving an opportunity to change their futures.

If you would like to be part of our life-changing work, click here to learn about volunteering.

 

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