Habitat for Humanity Restore

Habitat for Humanity Restore

By Anita Todd Whitaker

Donate. Shop. Save.

With those three words, Habitat for Humanity ReStore’s logo sums up what people can do at the two local Polk County stores. But what those words don’t reveal is what happens afterward – after the donating, the shopping, and the saving.

Last year, the Lakeland Habitat for Humanity ReStore made enough money to sponsor and build five homes plus 25 additional homes that have been repaired just since July 1. The Habitat for Humanity of East Polk ReStore in Winter Haven has funded one home so far this year.
“The most rewarding part is seeing prospective homeowners come in to fill out the application; then over the next 12 to 24 months go through the process, and then hand them the keys to their new house,” said Julie Farish, Executive Director of the Habitat for Humanity of East Polk ReStore.

ReStores sell new and “gently-used” home improvement goods, furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price. The proceeds are used by local Habitat for Humanity affiliates to help build and renovate more homes and communities.

Both Farish and Claire Twomey, Chief Executive Officer of the Lakeland ReStore, said that the locations are the best kept secrets in Polk County.  “We’ve been open for seven years and I’m amazed at the number of people who don’t know we are there,” Twomey said. “ReStore gives many the opportunity to purchase building materials that otherwise they couldn’t afford.”

ReStore receives donations from corporate and private donors of new and gently used items like electronics, carpet, building materials and other items used for home repair, with the top sellers being furniture, doors and appliances. They also receive monetary donations from local companies and organizations.

“We take anything that’s in your house except your clothes, food and shoes,” Farish laughed.

The donations are tax deductible and may be dropped off at a location or appointments can be made for pickup. The items are sold at discounted prices and the money is used for operational costs with the majority going toward construction of new Habitat homes.

Habitat for Humanity works to develop communities with people in need by building and renovating houses so that there are decent houses in decent communities.

After 20 years of payments, three years ago, Rebecca Cope paid off her Habitat three bedroom, two bath, home in Winter Haven. Cope said the Habitat home changed hers and her family’s lives.

“Our home changed our environment by taking us out of the drug- infested neighborhood where we were living,” Cope said. “And, it changed my girls’ attitudes. It was their home – it was ours – something we could be proud of.”

About two years ago, the Lakeland store took the option of repairing the homes of needy families in addition to building Habitat homes. Usually, a neighbor, friend or church member will notify ReStore of a need which also funds those repairs.

“Our goal is to go house by house, block by block repairing homes,” Twomey said. “Most of the homeowners are elderly, proud and independent. They don’t want something for nothing – we almost have to talk them into letting us help them sometimes.”  They must meet certain income requirements, agree to a percentage of a normal charge and are given time to pay for the repairs.

“This program helps a lot more people for a lot less money,” Twomey said.

Farish said there was one important thing for people to remember about the organization. “We are a hand up – not a hand out.”

The Lakeland location recently opened their ReStore in a new building at the same location at 1317 George Jenkins Blvd. They can be reached by calling 863.688.3660 or visit their website where items for sale are listed at habitatoflakeland.org/restore.php. They are open Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Habitat for Humanity of East Polk County ReStore accepts donations Monday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. or Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Pickups may be scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays. They are open Monday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. They are located at 3550 Recker Highway in Winter Haven. They may be reached at 863.292.2256 or visit the website at www.habitateastpolk.org. Items for sale may be viewed on the website, as well.

Both locations are always in need of volunteers and, of course, donations.

H-F-H wh 2 wh 3  wh 1

Leave a Comment