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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.

 

ReUse and Rolemodel: Just a Few Reasons These Two Choose to Volunteer

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by Kristen Keefer

Every Monday, Roger Gauthier and Stephanie Plemmons team up to assist people dropping off donations at the ReStore receiving dock. Their efforts help make the transition of items into the store efficient; while their kind approach to helping customers and donors keep people coming back.

Roger, a retired plastics engineer, has been volunteering his time to Habitat since February 2012. In addition to volunteering with Habitat, he won the Habitat for the Holidays First Annual 3D Ornament Contest in 2014. He has also participated in the ReStore ReUse contest. The “reuse” aspect of the ReStore’s mission is important to Roger. In fact, it is one of the factors that motivated him to become a ReStore volunteer. He has even repaired damaged donated items to prevent them from being discarded into the landfill.

Stephanie, a longtime fan of Habitat’s mission, decided in October of 2015 to offer a helping hand at the ReStore wherever it was needed. Furthermore, she wanted to set a good example for her son. She explained, “I wanted to show my son that volunteering is cool!”

Both Roger and Stephanie have always volunteered in receiving. They work fluidly together, happily greeting every car as it pulls up, unloading and sorting items, and keeping receiving in tip-top shape. They’re an all-star team, attentively putting care into even the simplest of tasks.

And, through these selfless efforts, Roger and Stephanie have experienced the gift of service, a kind of gift that is rewarding to the giver, not just the receiver. Both agree that it is encouraging to see so many items donated to Habitat and to know that the proceeds from the sales of these items will go towards affordable housing. Stephanie explained, “Building homes for families that really need them, that is just a fabulous cause!” And Roger confirmed, saying that the work they do in receiving generates a sense of accomplishment.

Thank you Roger and Stephanie for being a rockin’ receiving crew! Having you onboard helps keep receiving running smooth and contributes greatly to the ReStore’s mission. We are thankful for all you do!

A Glimpse into Deconstruction with Long-time Volunteer Tom Weaver

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By Kristen Keefer

On and off for over thirty years Tom Weaver has been lending a helping hand at Habitat jobsites in the U.S., Germany, and Poland. Around three and a half years ago Tom retired and just a few months later decided to try on a new hat as a Habitat volunteer. When presented with the opportunity to have the reverse of the building experience – de-installation from homes and places of business – he was intrigued. Tom recalled, “I quickly learned about deconstruction and said ‘that’s for me’!”

For homeowners, businesses, and building owners, Habitat’s Deconstruction program offers an alternative to sending salvageable items to the landfill. It is through the combined efforts of staff, property owners, and volunteers like Tom, that this process is made possible. Benefits serve all parties involved: property owners receive affordable removal of cabinets, fixtures and appliances; residents can buy these usable items at affordable prices at the ReStore; and landfills are relieved from the prospective burden of additional waste.

Knowing that the removed materials are sold at affordable prices at the ReStore, and that proceeds from sales help build affordable housing in Asheville resonates deeply with Tom. Being able to witness this process firsthand, while contributing to its motion is a reward that keeps him coming back. To date, he has volunteered six hundred hours of his time on deconstruction sites.

So, what is it like on a deconstruction site? Generally, Tom’s time is spent removing cabinets and countertops from kitchens and sometimes bathrooms. However, his experience extends to larger deconstruction sites like commercial businesses and hotels. Every deconstruction job is unique, contributing to both the challenge and satisfaction of the task itself. Tom’s message for prospective deconstruction volunteers: “Jump in! Go for it! Some people may get intimidated, but in the end you’re taking things apart, which is always shorter than putting things together.”

Tom’s cool, calm, and collected attitude carries him through obstacles on the deconstruction site. Never fretting when confronted with difficulty, he simply works through the tasks presented to him, adding new experiences to his skill set. Thank you, Tom, for your lengthy service with Habitat for Humanity, the immense knowledge you share on deconstruction sites, and your admirable attitude that is a reminder to us all to embrace our capabilities!

From Bookstore to Boardroom: How One Volunteer Serves Habitat

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By Kristen Keefer

It was over twelve years ago that Cassie Dillon (above, R) began her service at the Asheville ReStore. At the time, she was traveling throughout the week for work but was still determined to find time to serve her community. She pursued a weekend opportunity with the ReStore and since then, has become a core volunteer in the bookstore. A book and music enthusiast herself, she puts care into connecting with shoppers who frequent the bookstore. Cassie plays an important part in ensuring that every ReStore shopper has a delightful experience, but this is not her only involvement with Habitat.

In 2014, Cassie joined the ReStore Committee and has been creatively collaborating with other committee members to keep the ReStore at its best since. She has also served on the Fund Development Committee for over a year, helping brainstorm ways to raise funds for Habitat’s building programs as well as special campaigns like Shiloh: Let’s Build!

Recently, she was asked to join the Board of Directors, which she says has already been a fascinating experience. Cassie says that becoming a member of the Board has furthered her understanding of Asheville Habitat in its entirety. She explained, “There is so much that goes into Habitat – mortgage lending, construction services, operating the ReStore, and ultimately serving the community.”

She also had a recent opportunity to experience a homeowner closing firsthand. She reminisced about the homeowner’s excitement and how impactful hearing “zero percent interest” was when reviewing and signing the mortgage documents. This is the moment that Cassie – and all Habitat volunteers, staff, and homeowners work together towards; the moment when a family achieves their dream of affordable homeownership.

Upholding Habitat’s mission is at the core of Cassie’s devotion to her to many roles within Habitat. She said, “I’d recommend volunteering here to anyone who has free time that wants to serve their community. Volunteering with Habitat is a worthy use of anyone’s time!”

With over a decade of service under her belt, Cassie Dillon’s contributions across so many areas of the organization have been greatly impactful and are deeply appreciated. Thank you Cassie, for your unwavering service to Asheville Area Habitat and your community!

A Delightful Duo: Lifelong Friends Provide Service to the ReStore

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By Kristen Keefer

Carolyn McDonald and Jo Harvey, friends since childhood, meet every Tuesday to volunteer at the ReStore. The duo spends their time alongside core volunteer Susan Diehn at the checkout-counter. “Susan is great; she really helped me learn the ropes,” remarked Carolyn who has been volunteering for over a year and recruited Jo to begin volunteering this past June. In regards to bringing Jo on-board Carolyn said, “Jo knew I wouldn’t lead her astray, we’ve been friends forever.” Jo agreed: “I jumped right in at the ReStore and really enjoyed it!”

Carolyn initially became acquainted with Habitat through the Home Repair program. Our repair team completed much-needed repairs on her home’s roof, and electrical and plumbing systems. As part of her home repair client agreement, she needed to complete sweat equity hours, and she chose to complete them at the ReStore.

After completing the required volunteer hours, Carolyn decided she wanted to continue her service. She explained, “I love it here. Everyone is just awesome and I look forward to coming in!” She expressed her appreciation for the ReStore’s Volunteer Coordinator Carrie Burgin, saying “Carrie is amazing; she works with my schedule and is a very caring person.”

Both Carolyn and Jo enjoy working alongside other Habitat volunteers and staff, and they appreciate what Habitat does for the community. “It is just amazing, all the people Habitat helps, all the good that they do,” remarked Jo. A longtime fan of Habitat’s work, she first became acquainted with Habitat’s mission through her grandchildren who have spent time volunteering on Habitat construction sites.

The women dedicate their time outside of Habitat to helping others as well. On the weekends, Carolyn is a Medical Technician at North Ridge Assisted Living. And, throughout the week Jo helps care for a member of her community by transporting him to and from adult day care, as well as getting him breakfast in the mornings and making him home cooked meals in the evening.

Lifelong friends Jo and Carolyn are dedicated to service at the ReStore and in the community. Their story exhibits the value of a strong friendship, and demonstrates how sharing a new opportunity with a friend can be very special. We’re grateful that Carolyn chose to continue her service at the ReStore, and that she brought Jo on-board, too!

Photo (from L to R): Susan, Carrie, Carolyn and Jo

Creating Community Through Service

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by Kristin Keefer

Every Saturday, brothers Kris (far L) and Wayne (L) Ruth lend their time to the ReStore receiving area. They unload donations from vehicles, sort through a mixture of merchandise, and take time to really connect with donors dropping off previously loved goods. Whether it be by lending an ear to donors who have a story to share, or attentively greeting everyone who pulls up to the loading dock with a friendly smile, the duo consciously and caringly engages with ReStore donors, customers, volunteers, and employees.

The two men, now retired, became connected to the Habitat ReStore through a friend when the store was still downtown. Years later, after the ReStore relocated from Biltmore Avenue downtown to the current Meadow Rd/Biltmore Village location, they began volunteering. The gig was a perfect fit and it wasn’t long before they both became core volunteers.

Wayne has been with the ReStore for 13 years and Kris for 12 years. They both agree that they keep coming back for a simple reason; to help one another. Every week, they work together to help other volunteers and employees, and to contribute to the ReStore’s mission. They come back because the people they’re helping are their friends. It is from interactions like these that community sprouts.

For Kris and Wayne, volunteering at the ReStore is about more than processing items in the receiving area, it’s really about the people. Wayne shared, “We really enjoy visiting with folks. We meet some wonderful people!” And, they agree that what they most enjoy about volunteering at the ReStore is the sense of community that is present amongst volunteers and employees. Kris said, “Employees at the ReStore don’t tell you what to do, they help you do it. The people here are really community-oriented.”

If you dig into the brothers’ background, Kris and Wayne’s friendliness comes as no surprise. Both have enjoyed traveling the globe; exploring new places and meeting new faces. In fact, they spent a notable portion of their youth living in Germany.

Recently, Wayne took inspiration from his time spent in Germany (and also Austria), when he remodeled his home in Western North Carolina — ironically located on Munich Street. He compiled materials like metal roofing, windows, a pallet of boards, and even a hot tub from the Restore to use in the restoration. With the reusable materials he constructed a live and work space that includes a bier garden. The space won the “Best Live /Work Space category in the 2014 ReStore ReUse Contest! The following year, Wayne applied his creativity to the contest in a different manner – by participating as a judge.

For over a decade, Kris and Wayne have dedicated their time and talents to the ReStore. Their commitment to helping their peers and customers while making meaningful connections is a wonderful contribution to the tight-knit ReStore community. It is volunteers like this duo that make the ReStore a special place to be. We are grateful for all that you do, Kris and Wayne! Cheers to another decade!

Commitment to Service Deserves Celebration

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By Kristen Keefer

Through a combined effort led by ReStore Volunteer Coordinator Carrie Burgin, the annual ReStore Volunteer Appreciation Party was a huge success! On Tuesday, September 20th, more than 150 attendees gathered at Highland Brewing Company in their new event space and savored a beautiful spread of food prepared lovingly by Events Committee chair Alice Donnelly. Volunteers, staff, and their guests also enjoyed live music performed by Hank Bones while sharing in the company of one another throughout the evening.

ReStore Manager Scott Stetson, began the program with a warm welcome while sharing his appreciation for how largely volunteer efforts contribute to a thriving ReStore; efforts that ultimately contribute to the Habitat’s ability to create affordable housing. Future homeowner Heidi Chapman and her two sons took the stage next, expressing excitement and gratitude. Executive Director Andy Barnett followed, interweaving volunteer contributions to the global impact of Habitat’s tithing program. For every home built in Buncombe County, Asheville Habitat tithes to affiliates in Guatemala, Malawi, Haiti, Bangladesh, or Egypt. This incredible tithe program is made possible through many efforts, including our volunteers’ unwavering commitment to service at Habitat.

Next came awards for length of service. Katie Caron, Diane McLean, Dan Shackelford, Arnold Willen, and Marci Windham were all recognized for volunteering for 5 years at the ReStore. Anne Connelly, Bruce Emory, Daphne Fox, Jim Goodson, Sherry Griffith, Connie Koiner, Laura Lowe, Jane Parmley, Betty Jo Readling, Ron Schmid, and Trina Summers were recognized for 10 years of volunteer service. Phil Casey, Bill Crownover, and Alan Williams were recognized for 15 years of service. Additional awards went to Helen Andrews and Bruce Tettemer. And, Shirley Studwell was presented with a special award for sharing her time and talent with Asheville Area Habitat for 25 years!

Thank you volunteers, new and long-standing, for all of your efforts! Day after day your talent, effort, and spirit make the ReStore a special place to be. Without your dedication, operating the Restore, and building homes both locally and globally would not be possible. Your joyful participation at the ReStore and your commitment to Habitat’s mission truly does make a world of a difference!

Hardware Heroes

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By Kristen Keefer

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, contractor, or simply an avid thrift shopper, then you recognize the value of well-preserved secondhand tools. Every week the ReStore receives a mixture of hardware donations, from power tools like drills and table saws, to screwdrivers and hammers. Many of these items are quickly re-homed once reaching the sales floor, which results in funding towards Habitat’s mission and affordable tools for consumers in Asheville.

This smooth transition couldn’t take place without the helping hands of Richard Pollard, Harvey Sexton, and John Harvin (pictured above, L to R), the hardware crew behind the scenes. All three men were acquainted with Habitat long before retirement. Once retired, each sought a meaningful way to spend their time, which led them to volunteering at the ReStore. With all three having experience with tools, working in hardware was a natural fit.

Harvey and Richard explained how much of their personal experience using tools has given them an eye for hardware items at the ReStore. In fact, the two men often collaborate on pricing and identifying items. Richard said, “I’ll look at stuff he prices and we’re spot on with the same pricing. Unless you use a tool, you don’t know how valuable it is.” The value Richard speaks of isn’t solely monetary either. Having the right tool for a job can be the determining factor in whether or not a person can complete a project themselves. Access to affordable tools empowers individuals to be able to take on projects, develop skills, and improve their homes.

Not only are the guys helping shoppers access affordable tools, but they also identify unique or antique tools for inclusion in the ReStore Silent Auction. John explained, “Sometimes I feel like an archaeologist digging into the past. It’s fun! What you find is a surprise!” He has discovered everything from run-of-the-mill tools to rare antiques. Being able to deliver a good value to the consumer is important to him, as is helping raise funds for Habitat’s mission through the ReStore.

John especially appreciates Habitat’s model to create affordable housing because it actively involves future homeowners in the process. Harvey also demonstrated an appreciation for the families that complete their sweat equity at the ReStore and remarked, “It is so pleasant to work with partner families and get to know them.”

The sentiment Harvey shared seems to resonate with all three of the men. Whether speaking with Richard, Harvey, or John, you’ll find what they enjoy most about volunteering are the people that fill the ReStore. The staff, volunteers, and partner families that they work alongside weekly are what keep them coming back. These three gentlemen volunteer their time, knowledge, and skills to the ReStore. In return, they receive a rewarding experience filled with valuable company and friendships. We are grateful to have them on board and appreciate their devotion to helping keep quality affordable hardware at the ReStore!

2016 ReStore ReUse Contest

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For the fifth consecutive year, the Asheville Habitat ReStore is encouraging residents to show off their creativity and talent for a chance to win the ReStore ReUse Contest. Garden shed, artist studio, chicken coop…tree house, dog house, playhouse…if you recently built a structure like this using predominantly reused building materials, Habitat wants to know! The contest runs July 1-August 31 and submissions must be sent electronically. Click here for entry form.

The purpose of the contest is to showcase innovative building projects constructed predominantly of used building materials. “Our customers often tell us about the projects they make using materials purchased at the ReStore. This contest is a great way to showcase their projects and inspire others to reuse, recycle and repurpose usable building materials and supplies,” said Scott Stetson, ReStore General Manager.

Five judges will select winners in the following categories: Furniture, Homesteading, Live/Work Space, and Best in Show. The public will be encouraged to vote for their favorite entry (People’s Choice Award) in the ReStore and on-line starting in early September. Details will be announced later this summer.

To see all photos from last year’s contest, please click here.

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