About five years ago, Suzanne Cianciulli and her son were living in a rundown mobile home rental while she tried to make ends meet working a retail job.
With the holidays currently underway, there’s plenty for all of us to be grateful for living here in Western North Carolina. A roof over our heads, food in our bellies, a warm bed to climb into each night, a beautiful mountain view to awaken us each morning.
Twenty-seven years is a long time for anything.
“It amazing to me that it’s still going on,” Warren Haynes said. “It’s getting bigger and better every year, and I don’t think we would have predicted that when we started it years ago.”
SEE ALSO: Haywood Habitat looks to 2016
As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child.
Remodelers who don’t want to send their old kitchen cabinets, bathroom sinks or screen doors to the dump will soon have a place to send unwanted wares that seem too good to throw out.
Haywood Habitat for Humanity is opening a ReStore shop in Waynesville that will have all the usual trappings of a thrift store — dishes, lamps, sofas, coffee makers and the like — but will also have an inventory of used building materials.
“So if someone takes their kitchen cabinets out, rather than taking them to the landfill, we can put them in our store sell them,” said Kent Stewart, the ReStore manager and past-president of Haywood Habitat. “The proceeds go to building more houses.”
Haywood Habitat builds two homes a year on average for needy families. The hope is that the ReStore will raise enough money within a couple years completely fund a new home, Stewart said. Some donated items may even find their way into a Habitat house.
Thrift stores catering to remodelers have become a signature of Habitat for Humanity groups across the country. Bargain hunters with remodeling jobs of their own can repurpose the cast-off materials from someone else’s home renovation.
“The idea of buying a used sink, particularly if you are putting it in your shed or workshop, would be preferable to going to Lowe’s and having to spend $100,” Stewart said.
The Haywood Habitat chapter has toyed with the idea of such a thrift store for nearly a decade.
“For years we kicked it back and forth like a volleyball. It was one of those things that was a good idea but no one wanted to do the work to make it happen,” Stewart said. “Somebody finally said ‘OK you go do it.’”
Few would be better suited than Stewart to run such a store. As the former owner of the downtown Waynesville Book Company, Stewart is versed in retail business management. After selling the bookstore, Stewart went to work at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Waynesville for eight years, becoming intimately familiar with building trades and materials.
Stewart and his fellow Habitat board members spent months developing a business plan a year ago and are now seeing the vision become a reality.
The store won’t open until the spring, but is currently seeking donations to fill it up with things to sell. For those with large items unable to haul them to the store, the Habitat folks can do pick ups.
Stewart hopes the site won’t become a dumping ground for junk. He hopes people won’t offload their construction debris and call it a donation, because that just means Habitat volunteers will bear the burden of carting it to the landfill.
The new store will serve the dual benefit of filling a vacant store space downtown. Located at the corner of Montgomery and Miller streets across from the Sweet Onion restaurant and the public town parking lot, the space was formerly the basement of the Furniture Village, or before that the old Belk’s department store.
The Haywood County Board of Realtors is organizing a Build Day for Habitat for Humanity on Sept. 16 at Barefoot Ridge in Clyde.
Realtors and others who would like to take part in the event should be ready to work from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lot 8 in Barefoot Ridge. Workers will help with the foundation of the house. Lunch will be provided.
Haywood Habitat for Humanity is holding an open enrollment through July for perspective new-home partner families. Applicants must be residents of Haywood County and have lived in North Carolina for the past year, have an annual household income of $18,700 to $28,600 and a credit history free of liens and judgments. Applicants must currently reside in unsafe or overcrowded housing and be willing to commit 400 hours of labor and time into building their home or the home of another partner family.
Haywood Habitat for Humanity marked its 20th anniversary at the organization’s Annual Meeting. To celebrate, Habitat Executive Director Marnette Colborne announced the creation of the annual Walton Garrett Award to recognize special volunteers. Garrett started the organization in the county and has worked on every house built. Four volunteers were recognized this year: Hugh Constance, Tom Henry, Ted Lazo and Steve Kirton.
Colborne summarized accomplishments of Haywood Habitat throughout the past year, including completion of the 39th house and ground breaking on the 40th, which was sponsored by Jay and Buckie Somers. The 40th house should be completed this fall.
Habitat for Humanity is a volunteer-based organization committed to eliminating sub-standard housing. For additional information or to volunteer, visit www.haywoodhabitat.org or call 452-7960.