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2 min read

Metro Deaf School Students are making a huge impact at Minneapolis ReStore

Metro Deaf School Students are making a huge impact at Minneapolis ReStore

At Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, we work with a variety of groups that engage in many different ways with our mission—from volunteering, to fundraising, to advocating for policies that support affordable housing. Each group comes with different motivations, passions, experiences, and goals, but they all contribute and make a huge impact on the work we’re able to do in the local community.

MDS students with Sarah and Gary.

One such group comes from the Metro Deaf School (MDS) in Minneapolis. This group of four students volunteer at the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Minneapolis every Thursday as part of a work experience program through their school. MDS partners with Career Ventures Inc. to provide Occupational Communications Specialists (OCS) to help with interpreting and coaching the students on the work site.

“This is such a great experience for the students,” said Sarah, the OCS working with the students and staff at the ReStore. “As their longest work day, they get to learn about things like taking breaks, clocking in and out, and develop skills on how to prioritize what work gets done when.”

Aldair doing inventory.Sarah said that when she first met with this particular group of students, they expressed interest in working with their hands. She immediately thought of Habitat for Humanity, having previously worked with a student at the New Brighton ReStore location. Since the start of the school year this past fall, the team has been working with Sarah and the Minneapolis ReStore’s Assistant Manager, Gary, to learn new skills and help out around the store.

“This is the most efficient and hardworking group I’ve ever worked with,” Gary said. “I gave them a long list of things to get through this morning, and it’s not even time for our lunch break and they’re almost finished!”

The students admitted that when they first started working at the store, they were a little intimidated of working in such a large space and not knowing how to perform certain tasks.

“It took me a while to become more comfortable with the work vocabulary, and the different processes for things, like setting up a kitchen,” said Aldair, one of the students from MDS. “It was awkward at first, but I’ve definitely become more comfortable and now I know what to do.”

Although each of the students is eager and willing to try new things, they also have individual preferences when it comes to the type of work they enjoy.

Keng moving boxes with a pallet jack.“I like when I use the pallet jack,” said Keng. “I’ve never experienced that before. It’s harder when there’s a big load to lift, but I’ve learned you just need to keep it balanced.”

“I like using the sledgehammer and when we work on organizing things,” Devonte said. “I don’t really like when we have to take the trash outside when it’s cold, but I still go through it.”

With a store team of only five staff, the work of our regular volunteers, like the students from MDS, is essential to keep things running smoothly at the Minneapolis ReStore.

“We recently received a huge shipment of lighting in from a donor, which is an incredible contribution to the organization, but required a lot of time to organize and store,” Gary said. “This group has made a huge difference in helping to get the products organized and keep the inventory up-to-date.”

Devonte and Keng with Sarah.

The students’ work at the Minneapolis ReStore is just one part of the school’s transition program to prepare these students for their futures. They also go out into the community with their OCS to experience restaurant dining, cooking, budgeting, and other life skills that will better equip them for their future work experiences and living independently.

All four students shared their different goals and plans for the future—ranging from working in the food industry, to pursuing education in architecture and construction—but they all agree they’d love to come back and volunteer at the store whenever possible.

“We’d welcome them back anytime!” Gary said.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at our ReStores, please visit our webpage.

Shop, Donate, Volunteer at ReStore

Jan at the WCCO studio.

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