Posts

A Million Dollar Idea

, , ,

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.

A Great Retirement Plan

, ,

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.

 

Community Connection

, ,

By Maria Angell

Interested in volunteering? Then maybe the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore is the place for you; as it is for Mark Carter.

Mark just started volunteering with us in January of this year and already loves the work he has done with the Asheville ReStore.

He started volunteering with Habitat because he wanted a way to connect with people locally and help a charity that offers long-term value to our community. He has past experience volunteering with the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry and the Western Carolina Rescue Ministries.

Mark operates the building supplies register at the front of the ReStore where he assists customers and fellow volunteers. He says he loves his position because it’s action-packed and a lot of fun; he particularly loves meeting the customers, hearing their stories, and the overall camaraderie of the Habitat team including fellow volunteers Laurie Vint, Andrew Simons, and Rhonda McKenna (pictured above).

Seeing customers leaving with items that they would not be able to afford without the ReStore, never fails to put a smile on Mark’s face. And knowing that he’s helping so many people, in and out of the store, have a better quality of life, is what Mark finds most rewarding about his volunteer work.

Mark highly recommends that anyone looking to serve the community should consider Habitat. “The culture is very positive, and they let you know you are appreciated. There are opportunities for every personality, and they are open to utilizing your individual talents. Working with an organization that requires recipients to take an active role is very rewarding.”

Thank you Mark for sharing your time with Asheville Habitat to ensure more families have safe, stable homes!

To learn more about volunteer opportunities with Asheville Habitat, click here.

 

 

A True Passion for Habitat

, , , ,

By Maria Angell

As soon as you walk into the Asheville Habitat ReStore, volunteer Rhonda McKenna’s smiling face is going to be one of the first things you see.

Rhonda has a long history of volunteering, including her volunteer work with homeless shelters, churches, and her daughter’s school back in Atlanta, Georgia. Over twelve years ago, she and her family left Georgia and moved here to Asheville, North Carolina. With her daughter in school and her husband travelling for work, Rhonda decided to go back to volunteering in order to keep herself busy. She is a firm believer in service and thought that working with a local organization would give her an opportunity to meet new people in a new town. She tried volunteering with a few organizations, but none of them seemed to be the right fit. That’s when she decided to reach out to Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, as she had previous experience with Habitat back in Atlanta. “Habitat was organized right from the start. They immediately got back to me and had a position for me right away. I loved working with them in Atlanta. I love the cause and the whole mission.”

Rhonda now has experience in just about every volunteer position Asheville Habitat offers, from working on the construction site and in the administrative office, to serving on the Events Committee and participating in a Global Village Trip to Guatemala. These days though, she is most often found at the lower register in the ReStore. On Fridays, she runs the cash register, assists customers, puts out merchandise, and engages in her favorite aspect of her work – socializing with customers, fellow volunteers, and staff.

Anytime she has the opportunity, Rhonda recommends others volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. She states that the organization is perfect for adults of any age and any walk of life. According to Rhonda, it is an amazing place for older people to put their lifelong skills to use, especially on the jobsite, and it is a great environment to socialize and make new friends. Rhonda also encourages young people (ages 16+)  to get involved.

“I think it’s important for young people to volunteer because they learn to give back. At a young age, you’re generally very into yourself. And I think it’s a good thing for young people to look outside of themselves. When you’re at a certain age you think your life is terrible…until you get some perspective.”

Rhonda also loves how Habitat gives people the opportunity to learn new skills. In one instance, she was working at a jobsite with a group of nurses with no construction experience; some of whom had never hammered a nail. At the beginning of the day, the women were incredibly nervous about the tasks at hand. But by the end of the day, they had built an entire porch by themselves and were beaming with pride!

It is apparent that Rhonda has a true passion for volunteer work and for Habitat for Humanity. “I really love the whole mission. I love the fact that we help people help themselves. It’s so wonderful to see how we’re changing people’s lives.”

Thank you Rhonda for the twelve years of service you have given to our organization! We appreciate you!

If you would like to volunteer with Asheville Habitat, click here to see the opportunities and sign up.

Volunteers: The Fuel the ReStore Needs to Run

, ,

It is common knowledge that volunteers help build Habitat houses. But did you know that volunteers are also imperative to the operation of the ReStore? There are nearly 140 volunteer shifts each week, many filled by folks who have been serving for 5-20+ years! Recently, with food, drink, and music, the ReStore was transformed from a retail store into a party venue for an evening as we thanked and celebrated all of our ReStore volunteers. Special recognition went to the following volunteers for their service milestones:

5 Years – Mike Burke, Roger Gauthier, Gail Lamb, Karen Larsen, Susan Maveety, Meredith Norwood, Marianne Ryall, Martha Smith, and Beebe Woodside

10 Years – Sandra Dykes, Sid Finkel, Ned Guttman, Walt Tolley, and Lou Towson

15 Years – Beth Robrecht

20 Years – Lee Fadden

And as always, Allen Laws received the Iron Man award!

Thank you to all ReStore volunteers for sharing your time and talent with us. Thanks to you, we are one of the top performing ReStores in the nation. And most importantly, the ReStore is an important revenue stream for Asheville Habitat’s home building and repair programs.

 

Finding a Niche in Retirement

,

By Alex Cox

On this Thank You Thursday, we are recognizing two volunteers that contribute their time to repairing small appliances, lights, and other electrical items in the ReStore — tasks that can be time consuming and are not necessarily for everyone. These types of repairs can be tedious and you definitely get dirty!

Dick Manz has been volunteering with the ReStore for 18 years. During the last three, he has been working in a dedicated space on a lower level of the ReStore, crowds of vacuums gathered around and bags, cables, and tools hanging from the walls.

“We had a stack of vacuums about a mile high, all needing repair,” said Dick. “You need ample space to spread everything out and properly repair the units that come in. I offered to work on all of them if I had enough room and the tools to do it.” ReStore management was more than happy to oblige.

“I’ve accumulated quite the mess down here, and sometimes I’m not sure what to do with some of it,” said Dick. “But someone has to do it, and it’s not a problem at all for me.”

Dick came to Asheville to retire. Born in Oklahoma, his background is in engineering. He was also in a management position at the paper mill in Canton, NC, about 20 miles west of Asheville. Since his relocation here in 1992, he’s been volunteering most of that time, taking only a couple years off.

Another volunteer, originally from Florida, has been responsible for making sure some of the other electrical items that are sold in the ReStore are in proper working order. Richard Pollard has been volunteering with the ReStore for three years. His background is in maintenance for a nursing home, which has translated well to his volunteer position.

One of his first projects at the ReStore included working on lawnmowers, and then he moved to other electrical components such as appliances and lights.

“I was getting restless after my previous job, and really wanted something to do, and some way to contribute,” said Richard. “I came here, started working on some of the things I knew about, and it kind of went from there.”

Richard also contributes his time to teach his skills to others. He takes on young volunteers who come in and want to learn, sometimes as part of large groups. He has them help out around his workspace while they gain experience regarding electrical repairs.

Richard may have come to the ReStore looking to contribute, but has stayed because of the supportive environment. “I definitely like it here. There’s no drama, no arguing between the people that volunteer here,” Richard said happily. “Everything is a collaborative effort.”

Every volunteer contributes to the successful operation of the ReStore. And when volunteers like Dick Manz and Richard Pollard contribute their time, a strong work ethic and attention to detail, they make everyone else’s job easier. We are thankful for their service and their willingness to get dirty and do the jobs that need to get done. Thank you Dick and Richard!

If you are interested in volunteering with Asheville Habitat, please click here to learn more or sign up.

Flexible Volunteers Contribute to Success of ReStore

, ,

By Alex Cox

Since proceeds from ReStore sales cover administrative and fundraising costs, the 140 volunteers that serve every week are essential in enabling the store to remain a source of funding that allows Habitat to serve families in our community. This week, in Honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we are spotlighting ReStore volunteers Marianne Ryall and Ned Guttman.

Marianne Ryall, from Beaufort, SC, moved to Asheville to be closer to her family, specifically her son. She got familiar with the ReStore out of necessity: after moving here, Marianne needed furniture for her new space, and shopped at the ReStore to find items for her home. She has been volunteering with the ReStore since 2014. Marianne has been invaluable because she has come to be a “floater”, meaning she covers different volunteer shifts as needs change. She has to remain flexible, but that’s no problem for her. Marianne says she has enjoyed her time at the ReStore and plans to volunteer for the foreseeable future.

“This ReStore is definitely different,” Marianne said. “I’ve been to others in South Carolina, but this one is wonderful. Everyone is so helpful and there is such a diverse selection of things.”

Ned Guttman, who has been retired for 10 years and has been volunteering since, is another who steps up to meet needs. “After I retired 10 years ago, I wanted to give back to the community, and volunteering is a way to do that,” said Ned. “I think Habitat is a very worthwhile cause.”

Ned comes in weekly for his regular position of testing and repairing electronics, and also comes in another day each week to help with a separate duty. He knew there was a need for someone to enter volunteer hours into the database on a regular basis. Without being asked, Ned offered his time to complete the task.

“I added the data entry because I knew they needed help, and I am very comfortable with computers.”  Keeping up with the database requires attention to detail, patience, and a commitment to volunteering every week. The numbers need to be submitted on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis, and Ned understands the importance of meeting deadlines. He added, “I still volunteer for Habitat because of the appreciation given to the volunteers.”

Every volunteer is vital to Habitat’s mission and the ReStore’s daily operations, and when volunteers take initiative to recognize needs and fill them, it allows things to run even more smoothly. So in honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we say thank you to Ned and Marianne for their flexibility and their dedication!

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

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

, , ,

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.

One Volunteer Who Makes a Big Difference

, ,

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.