Two Former Government Employees Find Fulfillment and Fun at the ReStore

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.