Tag Archive for: ReStore volunteers

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!

ReStore Volunteer Adds Another Role to His Resume

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By Kristen Keefer

Retired pastor Jamie Dale has been an admirer of Habitat for Humanity’s mission since he first became acquainted with the organization in 1978. So naturally when he began volunteering at the Asheville Habitat ReStore in November of 2014, he was a great fit. He currently volunteers twice a week in the ReStore’s Small Appliances department, and he serves on Asheville Area Habitat’s Events Committee.

Working in Small Appliances allows him to fix items that may have otherwise been tossed into a landfill. This component of his work is very important to him. Appreciative of Habitat’s dedication to waste diversion, Dale noted “The ReStore does a really good job of refurbishing items and keeping them out of the landfill. The fact that it translates into housing is even better!” But what Jamie says he enjoys most about being a ReStore volunteer is, “You get to meet some fun people and the atmosphere is generally positive. People seem to really enjoy working here.”

In addition to volunteering with Habitat, Jamie has recently taken on another role. For nearly two months, he has been staying an hour after his ReStore volunteer shift to register voters. The seed that sprouted this idea however, had been planted nearly a year prior, after he attended a conference addressing voter issues. Jamie felt compelled to respond and get involved. At the time, he was unsure where to begin; but recently, an opportunity presented itself.

Annie Butzner, a volunteer for the NAACP, had already begun registering voters at the ReStore when Jamie offered a helping hand. Inside the ReStore, in the Upper Showroom, is Annie’s table of voter pamphlets and registration forms. On Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, this table is occupied by Jamie. His approach to registering voters is straightforward, honest, and confident. He explains, “Actively ask people if they are registered, don’t just wait on them to notice you or the sign.” As the list of voters Jamie has registered continues to grow, his go-getter approach is proving to be effective. And, to Jamie’s pleasant surprise, around 95% of the people he has approached are already registered voters. Jamie’s message to those that are still unregistered voters…register! He acknowledges that becoming an informed voter is an involved process, but advocates the importance of embracing this process. For Jamie, a citizen’s vote is their local and global voice.

Jamie’s passion for registering voters, giving usable items a second lease on life, and helping Habitat plan and execute events, is inspirational. He leads by example and demonstrates the power of taking action when you are passionate about a cause. Thank you Jamie, for the eclectic mixture of volunteer roles you embrace, both with Habitat for Humanity and in the greater community. We appreciate you!

Jim Dugas: Sewing Machine Expert and Man of Service   

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By Kristen Keefer

If you take a stroll through the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore, whether through the sales floor or behind the scenes, you’ll promptly notice a strong crew of smiling faces performing a variety of different functions. Everyone’s role contributes uniquely to Habitat’s mission. This is one of the aspects that makes volunteering at the ReStore so special. Each volunteer is empowered by the ability to seek a unique niche that they excel at and enjoy.

Karen and Jim DugasJim Dugas (pictured above, center and here with his wife, Karen) was once a professional woodworker. He found his volunteer niche in sewing machine repair. Jim volunteered at the ReStore for almost 5 years, until his recent and unexpected passing. When he began volunteering, he repaired furniture; but his interest ultimately shifted to sewing machines. Mastering the art of sewing machine repair came to him quickly. His good friend and fellow volunteer, Walt Tolley (pictured, above right), elaborated on his abilities saying “Jim loved the idea of returning a broken thing back to normal.” He testified that Jim’s work was completed to perfection and that he very much preferred finishing a task without any help. When Jim took on a project, he did so wholeheartedly!

Jim and Walt sprouted a strong friendship over similar interests and a shared workspace. And it was a friendship that extended beyond the walls of the ReStore Habitat. Walt, who has now been volunteering with Asheville Area Habitat for nine years, helps build homes with the Interfaith community and also works in the ReStore small appliance repair area, where the two friends became acquainted.

Jim worked alongside other volunteers, as well. He shared his extensive knowledge of sewing machine repair recently with Kayren McKnight (pictured, above left), who began volunteering at the ReStore in April 2016. Kayren, a costume seamstress for both The Magnetic Theatre and Montford Players Club, established an interest in sewing machine repair after developing an appreciation for the reliability of older machines. Though she came to Habitat with a sturdy foundation in sewing machine repair, she had yet to understand the wiring of these antique devices.

Jim embraced the opportunity to help Kayren develop this skill. Kayren explained about these older models, “This was early on in the patenting of sewing machines, so every model that was not made by Singer had to be constructed differently.” This action was necessary in order for other manufacturers to avoid patent infringement. Therefore, there are often differences in the mechanics of each antique machine that is donated to the ReStore; and learning to fix one doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to fix the next one.

Kayren recalled, “Jim researched every machine and repaired each one meticulously.” She shared that Jim had developed an inspection report form that he completed for each machine he worked on. In addition to this, he took photos of all the machines during the repair process. These photos acted as a guide for putting the machines back together. Kayren says she enjoyed working with someone that was so fascinated by the machines!

Kayren is certain that the level of detail Jim applied to repairing sewing machines was a reflection of his desire to produce the best work he could for Habitat. Jim’s story teaches us that service is multi-faceted. Service is not simply about performing a task, but instead about learning and sharing. It is about joining with others for a collective purpose larger than oneself. It is about making an impact and leaving an imprint. If you ever have the pleasure of chatting with Jim’s friends at the ReStore, you will certainly discover that he was a dear friend and mentor, and truly a man of service.

Friendship: Just One Reason to Volunteer

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By Madeline McIntyre

Betty Jo Readling started volunteering at the ReStore in the same way many others start: a friend asked. And we are fortunate enough that Betty Jo said yes. For ten years now, she has been a true leader among the volunteers, assisting in trainings and helping with anything and everything. “I love working that front desk right there, and getting to greet people, and going out on the floor, you know, just whatever anybody needs,” Betty Jo said.

Before her retirement, Betty Jo worked the front desk at Asheville Pediatrics. This experience made her well-equipped to work the ReStore register. We soon realized her talents and recruited her as the Volunteer Manager. “I’ve trained everybody who has worked with me and some others too,” Betty Jo said. Her favorite part of volunteer training is seeing the growth in others. “Just seeing how quickly some people can pick it up or how you have to maybe help some a little bit more,” she said.

And Betty Jo truly loves to help out. She spent some time during her last shift making sure an elderly couple would be able to back into the loading dock and load their purchases into their car. “That’s a big thing – just helping other people. And I get to see all of that,” Betty Jo said.

Her commitment to others makes her a favorite among the volunteers. “I adore her,” a fellow Wednesday volunteer, Debbie Rogers said. “She’s just a wonderful person.” Other volunteers feel the same way, making sure Betty Jo has a ride to Habitat events, helping her celebrate birthdays, and going out for the occasional lunch date. “There are three of us who meet every so often and go out to lunch,” Betty Jo said. “We just have a good time.”

These friendships are simply another part of the many reasons why Betty Jo has continued her service to Habitat for Humanity for so many years. “It is a nice way to make friends,” she said. “And the interaction that we have with customers, with staff, with volunteers. It’s just all good.”

Betty Jo plans on continuing to volunteer with Habitat for as long as she can, showing her dedication to our mission and values. And even though she has seen the ReStore change over the years, from system overhauls to building overhauls, she cannot imagine being anywhere else.
“It is just a great place. I love being here, and I’ll stay as long as I can,” Betty Jo said. “That pretty much sums it up.”

We are grateful to that friend who first asked her to volunteer, and so appreciate of all the volunteer service hours that Betty Jo has provided to Asheville Area Habitat over the past decade. Thank you, Betty Jo!

Photo: Betty Jo is pictured Left with fellow volunteers in 2006 (L) and 2016 (R).

Committed to Service, No Matter the Task

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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.