Tag Archive for: ReStore volunteers

From Finance to the Fix-It Shop: Three Volunteers Find Their Niche in the Large Appliance Repair Area

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By Jonathan Dermid

Typically, when someone first enters the ReStore, some of the first items on display are our large appliances. A common question might be, “they look nice, but do they work?” Here at the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore, we individually test them to make sure they are in top shape!

Helping to clean, repair (if necessary), and prepare these appliances for sale is the large appliance team of Joe Kane (L), Bill Crownover (C) and Sid Finkel (R). They typically won’t be found out on the sales floor though, as they toil away in the repair area in the basement, checking out everything from refrigerators to ranges.

“Joe and I both started about the same time, back when the store was still downtown, and we started working on the delivery trucks,” Bill said.

Bill and Joe bonded quickly, and their mutual enjoyment of cycling led to another volunteer assignment in the store. “He and I have done a lot of cycling together, so we had a lot of fun fixing bikes. But bikes have kind of peaked out and there became a greater need for testing and repairing large appliances,” Bill said.

When Sid began volunteering, the diligent repairing of appliances really picked up. “Before Sid came along, we kind of just sold them as-is.” Bill said. This diligence shows, and Sid takes pride in the condition of the appliances that go out onto the showroom floor. “They’re reliable appliances, and they’re tested and clean,” Sid said. “When someone buys an appliance from the ReStore, they can be sure they’re getting something that works.”

Interestingly, none of the three men come from a background of repairs, but backgrounds of finance-related careers, from investment banking in New York to the North Carolina Department of Revenue. “It’s interesting that we all come from different backgrounds,” Joe said. “I think there’s an attraction about Habitat and you get to meet all kinds of different people in the process.”

Perhaps the most common thread between the volunteers is their dedication to Habitat for Humanity, allowing them to take pride in not only their repair work, but the mission of Habitat as well.

“It’s a win-win-win situation in a lot of ways,” Sid said. “We raise money for the cause, we repair appliances that might be otherwise thrown out, and we put them back in the system for people who might not be able to afford new appliances.”

Joe shares these sentiments, and has a personal motivation to help others achieve their goal of affordable housing. “The first time I ever heard about Habitat for Humanity, I thought it was just a great concept. Providing a person with the opportunity to own a house in a good neighborhood really struck my fancy,” he said. My parents struggled very hard for a house, and when we finally got it, it was a great feeling; and it’s a great feeling knowing that I can help someone else have that.”

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

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.

 

Couple Bonds Over Volunteerism

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By Jonathan Dermid

At the Asheville Habitat ReStore, no single volunteer is an island unto themselves. They all work together in collaboration to effectively further the cause of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, and for some, this team effort extends beyond the store itself. Some are married, as is the case with Lou and Jerry Towson.

“My husband got started first. We’re both very interested in providing affordable housing for people, and I just wanted to do something where I’d be with other people,” Lou said. “I started at the cash register, but every time we had a lull, I’d be back there organizing and trying to ‘stage’ the shelves because I’m an interior designer.”

Both Lou and Jerry have been volunteering with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity for more than ten years. While Lou has found her niche at the ReStore, Jerry has been primarily involved on the affiliate side of things.

“He works regularly on the construction site, he was on the Board of Directors, and he was on the family selection committee,” Lou said. “He has a background in civil engineering, so he has been able to use that, because he likes to build and that’s a big help on the job site.”

Both share the common values that Habitat was founded upon: community members working together to enable everyone to have a safe, decent and affordable place to live.

“One of my core beliefs is that home ownership helps build family stability,” Jerry said. “A safe haven for parents and children usually reduces the stress of day-to-day living.”

He also sees the process of volunteering as being a positive in his own life, because it allows for an outlet for his energy.

“In my retirement years, by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, I can use my physical energy to help other families accomplish their goal of homeownership, and it has been pleasure to do that,” he said.

Lou echoes this sentiment, as she sees volunteering as satisfying for a few reasons.

“It makes me feel good because it’s what I like to do, but also because it lets me do a small part to help people who are seeking affordable homes,” she said. “The most satisfying things to me are making the ReStore look attractive and interacting with the other volunteers.”

Their volunteerism has also created a nice bond in their marriage, according to Lou.

“It’s kind of nice for us to volunteer together, because even if we’re not in the same place, we still go to all the functions together and we understand what the other is doing,” she said. “It’s something we’re both very committed to, and it’s nice to have that bond.”

If you would like to explore volunteering with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity on your own, or with a friend or family member, click here to learn more about opportunities and how to sign up.

 

Two Former Government Employees Find Fulfillment and Fun at the ReStore

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By Jonathan Dermid

If you’ve ever dropped off items on a Wednesday morning, you might never have guessed that two of the men helping you unload your donations are former employees of the US Department of State and the National Security Agency (NSA).

These two men are Bruce Ammerman(R), former foreign services agent for the State Department, and Dick Hipp (L), former technical writer for the NSA. In this photo, they are joking around with staffer Jason Butler (center).

Both men felt compelled to volunteer after retiring to Asheville, for similar reasons.

“I started volunteering because I moved to town, and I had retired, and I didn’t have anything to do with my time,” Bruce said. “I also think that it’s a laudable goal, making housing affordable for people who need it.”

Dick has a similar story of how he came to volunteer at the ReStore. “Pretty much like Bruce, I retired here from Washington D.C. and was looking for something to do that might be helpful to people,” Dick said. “I had a cycling friend that volunteered here and after asking him about it, I looked into it and I was interested. And since I’m not much of a handyman, I figured the loading dock sounded like a good fit.”

Dick worked for the NSA as a technical writer, which usually involved working with engineers and mathematicians and editing technical manuals and documentation.

He points to the social opportunities of volunteering here as another motivating factor, re-emphasizing the nature of teamwork that we have highlighted in past volunteer profiles.

“It’s nice to get out and have the opportunity to interact with people and work together with them for a goal; and I can do that here,” Dick noted.

For Bruce, volunteering was a venture that he only became able to do after retiring, and he exhibits a positive spirit in doing so.

“When I was working, I didn’t really do any volunteering because I was busy either with my family or with work, so I just didn’t have time,” Bruce said. “My dad volunteered for Meals on Wheels for decades, though, so I wanted to eventually do something similar in terms of volunteering.”

Bruce also points to a certain spirit of selflessness that permeates the volunteers at the ReStore and is worth honoring – it’s more for the sake of the cause than for individual praise. “I don’t think the people who volunteer here are necessarily interested in recognition,” he said. “Either something is worth doing or it’s not, but if it is a worthwhile endeavor, then it’s worth getting the word out.” In addition to volunteering in the ReStore, Bruce is also on our Outreach Committee so he can sometimes be found out in the community, staffing a Habitat table at a resource fair, for example.

Here at Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, we pride ourselves on our volunteers; both for their selflessness and for the breadth of past and present life experiences that unite under the common goals of Habitat for Humanity.

A big thanks to Dick, Bruce and all the volunteers who fuel our organization!

If you want to join our volunteer team, click here to read about opportunities or sign up for an orientation.

On Sale Day and Every Day, Volunteers Contribute to ReStore Success

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by Jonathan Dermid

Last Saturday, September 12th, we celebrated the ongoing support of our wonderful community with the annual Fall Customer Appreciation Sale at the ReStore. The celebration was an all-day affair, with everything from a live remote by 98.1 The River and a free hot dog lunch, to a special Silent Auction with items donated by the Grove Park Inn. These things, in addition to the 25% discount, were just a few ways for us to say thank you to the generous community who supports Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity by shopping, donating and volunteering at the ReStore.

Speaking of volunteering…In order for this event to come together seamlessly, 38 caring volunteers donated a combined total of 125 hours between Friday night (preparation) and Saturday (sale day)! This effort included everything from setting up merchandise to be sold (well into the evening on Friday) and answering customer questions, to diligently running the registers and helping load much of the large merchandise that was sold on Saturday.

ReStore volunteer coordinator Carrie Burgin pointed out, “This effort is not unique to Sale days. Our fantastic volunteers are the backbone of the ReStore, and their service keeps us running to support the affordable housing cause every day. But, the combined initiative that was shown last weekend displayed the essence of what we all take pride in here at Habitat: a kind of selfless giving of time and energy for the betterment of our community that not only made the Fall Sale a success, but continuously makes the Asheville Habitat ReStore a positive place to be.”

From all of us at Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, a big thanks to you – our community – for allowing us to serve you. And of course, Thank You to all the volunteers who worked so hard last weekend (and every day). We appreciate you!

If you’d like to learn more about volunteering at the ReStore or in another department, please click here.

Reading enthusiast finds volunteer home at Habitat

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By Jonathan Dermid

If the Asheville Habitat ReStore has a hidden gem, it would be the used bookstore. Tucked away in the back of the upper showroom, it may seem to be just another thrifty book corner. But as soon as you enter, you feel how it is different from other used bookstores.

Our bookstore is meticulously organized and operated through the care of several staff members and volunteers, who provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere which can be felt throughout the upper showroom.

One such volunteer is Katie Caron, who has been volunteering with Habitat for five years now. A former English teacher, Katie retired to Asheville and almost immediately found a place within Habitat.

“I went to an orientation at an organization called Land of Sky and they had different representatives from different organizations, and Habitat interested me,” she said. “I really believe in the purpose of the Habitat program and the way that it’s carried out.”

A self-proclaimed “book nut”, Katie gravitated towards the bookstore, where she volunteers on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. She chose to volunteer two days a week because she loves the idea of donating her time to the cause.

“It’s nice to donate your time instead of just writing a check,” she said, “and that time is equally donated by the people you’re helping.” Katie is referring to the Sweat Equity, or volunteer hours, that Habitat homeowners contribute on their path to Habitat homeownership.

She attributes her passion for volunteering to a sort of team mentality. “I like that idea of everyone working together,” she said, “it’s like a team, and that’s what this place is all about.”

As a team player, Katie will jump in when and where she is needed. Early in her tenure as a volunteer she helped our Communications department by cleaning and painting donated windows and doors which now comprise the “Habitat mission wall” in the lower showroom – a display that explains what Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, and the Asheville Habitat ReStore, is all about.

It’s the teamwork and the end result for the partner families (homeownership) that make volunteering so satisfying for Katie.

“When I see all the people around me that work so hard for this purpose, and when I see a family that we’ve helped, it makes me think ‘wow, that’s why I go in there and do that’,” she said. “It’s very fulfilling for me.”

If you’d like to learn about becoming a Habitat volunteer (in the ReStore or another area of the organization), please click here.

 

Volunteering to fix things, for the fun of it

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Spotlight on the ReStore’s Wednesday Small Appliance Repair Crew

By Jonathan Dermid

At the Asheville Habitat ReStore, we take great pride in our staff and volunteers. Not only are they the backbone of the store and its functionality, but their individual characters and personalities provide an energetic and welcoming atmosphere.

In the area of small appliance repair, “the Wednesday crew” is a particularly lively and affable group, who all shared the same notion about their volunteer work. They do it for the fun of the work and for the enjoyment of the company they share as they repair the appliances.

“I really like volunteering here because I get to interact with people that I get along with and have fun with,” Marty Toren said. “The work becomes secondary if you have that.”

Marty (pictured, center) came to Asheville from Salem, Oregon, where he volunteered on Habitat job sites until a back injury made him unable to do so. Upon moving to Asheville, he discovered that he could volunteer in the ReStore instead of having to do a great deal of physical work.

“I had a part-time job, so I had time to volunteer, and I thought I should volunteer for Habitat again,” he said. “I love being able to contribute to the buildings of homes for families who would be otherwise unable to afford them, just by volunteering here in the store.”

One of his team mates in the small appliances area is Bill Kalavorich (pictured, R), a retired physical therapist, who has been volunteering with Asheville Area Habitat for seven years now.

“I was exposed to Habitat through the United Way Day of Caring, Bill said. “Through that experience, I saw what a worthwhile organization Habitat is, and what they care about in their core business; so I wanted to do stuff with them.”

Both Bill and Wally Lee (another small appliance repair volunteer) echo Marty’s sentiment of how much fun volunteering at the ReStore can be.

“I started volunteering in the ReStore while I was still working, so I could only contribute one day a month,” said Wally (pictured, L). “When I retired, I moved to volunteering at the construction site weekly, but kept my position in the ReStore because it’s just so much fun.”

Wally is an Air Force veteran of four and a half years, and with his background in mechanical engineering, he has found a niche at the ReStore doing what he is both skilled at, and loves.

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved taking things apart and putting them back together, so that also makes this kind of work really fun for me,” he said. “Plus, Habitat is one of the premier organizations, in my opinion, because they do so much between the ReStore and the building of homes and everything else.  It’s really rewarding to volunteer here every week.”

If you’d like to learn about volunteering in the Asheville Habitat ReStore, click here to learn more and sign up for a volunteer orientation session.