Denise Jackson, manager of Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Georgetown, knew in advance that this month’s regular Unity meeting would be special.
“Our executive director, Kevin Gilmore, told me the meeting would be dedicated to the success of the ReStore, and I should try and get as many of our volunteers to attend as possible,” said Jackson.
More than 30 people arrived for the occasion, including Habitat board members, as well as staff, AmeriCorps workers and the loyal volunteers who are the heart of the Habitat story. The gathering occurred in the cavernous, high-ceilinged main room of the century-old brick ReStore, which used to be Georgetown’s Ice House. The seating comprised the comfortable and attractive couches, dining room and office chairs, and bar stools that were all recently donated and tagged for sale.
Gilmore started the meeting with a customary welcome and prayer. He then called Jackson to his side as he told the group that, thanks to their efforts in the fiscal year ending June 2011, the ReStore’s results were exceptional. Together, they had generated a profit of $85,000, the magic number that it takes to build one Habitat house.
“In fact,” he said, “the next house we start building will be identified as the ReStore house and will be a visible reminder for all those involved of the impact of their contribution.”
In the spirit of Unity meetings, each person in attendance was invited to speak about their ReStore experience. Words such as “team,” “family,” “respect,” “helping,” “organized,” “amazing,” “rewarding” and “proud” were representative.
Bryan Walker from Millsboro drives one of the ReStore trucks to pick up donations from building sites, private homes and stores going out of business.
“Now, when people ask for an explanation about what ReStore does, I can say that, thanks to everyone who has donated to us and bought from us, we’ve built a house!” he said.
Ralph Peters is a former president of Habitat’s board of directors and a major advocate of its work. He confessed that when the idea arose for Sussex County to have its own ReStore he was a reluctant supporter. “I just couldn’t see that selling a few things would produce enough money to cover its costs let alone make a profit,” he said. “Thank you, Denise, for proving me wrong.”
Gilmore noted that it was in the same room, when it was brimming full with lumber and stuff, where he interviewed Jackson for the position in January 2008.
“She was the only person I met who looked around the space and saw its potential. We are blessed to have her. Her vision and ability to bring people together is extraordinary.”
Jackson herself was too busy thanking her volunteers and staff to rest on her laurels. Seeing one from Bethany Beach, she said, “It was donations from Bethany that got us started, and that Route 26 corridor all the way to Dagsboro still provides us with one or two full truck loads every week.”
“But keep spreading the word,’ she said. “We can only keep this up when people remember that when they remodel their homes or replace their doors and windows or update their appliances, we have customers who would be most grateful.”
A framed certificate was given to the ReStore in honor of its “exceptional year of growth and commitment” to Habitat’s mission of building “simple, decent and affordable housing to those in need in Sussex County.” The wording ended by “remembering the words of Lord Jesus himself: ‘It is more blessed to give than receive.’”
The ReStore is located on Depot Street in downtown Georgetown. For information, call (302) 855-1156 or go to www.sussexcountyhabitat.org.