Habitat Niagara puts families, environment first

Habitat for Humanity Niagara’s Fonthill ReStore manager Jodi Krah, right, and the Dynamic Duo Volunteer Award winners Gail and Dave Learn. NATE SMELLE PHOTO

Fonthill ReStore will see second anniversary this spring

 

BY NATE SMELLE

The VOICE

Since it first opened its doors in April 2015, Habitat for Humanity Niagara’s ReStore in Fonthill has been making life easier for homeowners and families throughout Niagara. As one of two home renovation outlets in the region (the other being in St. Catharines) the Fonthill ReStore provides people with a variety of opportunities to help their community, protect the environment and save money at the same time. For less than typical retail prices, eco-conscious customers can purchase new and gently used building supplies, furniture, kitchens, lighting, appliances and décor without having to pay HST.

Making use of quality materials, furnishings and household items that would otherwise end up in the landfill is just one of the ways the ReStore benefits the environment, says Store Manager Jodi Krah.

“We do everything we can here to be environmentally conscious,” she says.

“We test everything that is donated to us, so if something doesn’t work we salvage every possible part. We have a bins for salvaging and recycling e-waste and metal. If we get something in that doesn’t work, we do our best to repurpose the parts that could be used elsewhere.”

Another of the ways Habitat Niagara reduces the environmental footprint of the community is through their salvage program. Saving people an average of $600 to $800 in contractor and disposal fees, Krah says their salvage crew will arrange a time that works with their client’s timeline to come into their home and remove kitchens, bathrooms, windows, doors and other usable items. Adding to its value, individuals who donate through the salvage program receive a tax receipt for their donation once it is sold.

“It is incredible to see what our volunteers will bring back from a salvage,” Krah says.

“Sometimes people will just want to give their kitchen a makeover so we will get a complete kitchen that is like new. Our volunteers are also skilled in what they do, and are very careful to leave the space clean and ready for the contractors to get to work.”

Seeing a full truck of donations pull up is always an exciting moment for Krah. Taking in so many items from community members over the years, Krah says she has realized how monumental every donation is. For instance, last summer she says there were two brothers who had recently lost their father and showed up with three truckloads of his possessions that they could no longer keep. While unloading the last few boxes from the final load, the brothers presented her with their father’s very special clock. Seeing the tears in their eyes as they reminisced about the clock, Krah says she gained a new sense of appreciation for their donors and the donations they receive.

“It donned on me at that moment that people are giving their memories to us. Pelham residents are amazingly generous. They’re giving us donations because they want to help Habitat, not because they want to get rid of their stuff.”

All proceeds generated from sales at the ReStore go towards helping Habitat Niagara build affordable homes for families in need of assistance. By mobilizing volunteers and community partners, Habitat Niagara has their sights set on breaking the cycle of poverty, creating a world in which everyone has a safe and decent place to live. Krah says she can’t say enough about how important volunteers are to their organization.

“We really can’t function without our volunteers,” she says.

“They’re here because they love the mission of Habitat for Humanity. They are the best workers you will ever find because they know that by doing a good job we are able to raise more money and help more families.”

Krah says each of the staff and volunteers at the Fonthill ReStore bring unique skills to the table. Having so many talented individuals working together towards the same goal in such a friendly atmosphere, creates an enriching environment, she says.

“One of our volunteers, who is 80-years-old and is a plumber by trade, spends a lot of time working with and training our younger volunteers and co-op students from E.L. Crossley and Centennial High School,” Krah says.

“It’s so nice to see people from different generations learning from one another. I just love the camaraderie and how everyone benefits from that.”

Each member of the ReStore’s team of volunteers and staff are essential to Habitat Niagara’s success in their own way. Gail and Dave Learn began volunteering at the ReStore before it was even open to the public. Originally Gail’s idea to get involved with Habitat Niagara, they now spend two days a week volunteering together. While Gail helps out in the retail space, Dave is often in the shop repairing and testing electronics, lights and other mechanical donations. Recently the couple were awarded the ReStore’s Dynamic Duo Award for their service.

“We love it here,” Gail says.

“It’s different every time you are here so it’s always very interesting and a lot of fun. Dave is a jack-of-all-trades so he is able to help fix a lot of the donations that need to be repaired.”

As a member of the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network, Habitat for Humanity Niagara also strives to help families in Niagara improve their lives through homeownership. Since being established in 1993, Habitat for Humanity Niagara has built 57 homes for families throughout the region. This year another construction is planned in Fort Erie as part of their Canada 150 Build initiative. Low-income families who currently live in substandard housing, who are willing to volunteer 500 hours of sweat equity and who are willing to repay a zero-down payment, interest-free mortgage, are invited to apply to the home ownership program.

The ReStore in Fonthill is located at 2499 Hwy 20 East, and is open Monday through Friday from 9AM until 6PM, and Saturday from 9AM until 5PM. Donations can be dropped off Monday through Saturday from 9AM until 4:30PM. For more information about the salvage program, contact 905-685-7395 x401 or [email protected] To apply to their home ownership program, visit www.habitatniagara.ca, or contact 905-685-7395 x403.

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