When Hope first started volunteering at ReStore, she wondered if she’d be able to do enough to make a difference. The answer has been a resounding “yes.” To get the full picture, though, we need to go back to the 1950s—because Hope’s motivation for volunteering at ReStore is personal.
As a child, she saw firsthand the impact of affordable homeownership. Hope’s dad worked on building their family’s home to keep the mortgage affordable. If he didn’t know how to do something, he visited the local library to check out books to learn new skills. (“He didn’t have YouTube back then,” Hope quipped.) Growing up in a stable, affordable home helped Hope’s family make it through different challenges. “I know personally that if you have a safe, stable home, you can better weather trials and tribulations,” she said. “You have a home to go to during those times. And it helps create generational wealth for families to pass down.”
Decades later, Hope decided to move from Iowa to Minnesota. At the time, her Realtor was donating a portion of proceeds to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. Hope noticed a link in the email signature and started exploring Habitat’s website. First, she donated a few things to ReStore that didn’t fit into her condo. Then she found out that ReStore was opening a new location in Minneapolis. After meeting with staff, she decided it was the perfect opportunity for her schedule, needs, skills, and abilities. Some of her first projects helped the team open the new store in 2016. If you’ve visited ReStore in south Minneapolis, you’ve probably seen the blue divider doors separating individual doors for sale. Well, Hope painted those! In the years since, Hope has become a crucial member of ReStore’s volunteer team. Now she mainly works at the register, helping shoppers find what they need and check out.
Hope stands next to the door dividers she helped paint before the Minneapolis ReStore opened in 2016.
Hope isn’t just a volunteer at ReStore. She’s also a shopper! From light fixtures and lamps to backsplash tile, she's furnished her place with one-of-a-kind items. “I have something from ReStore in every single room of my home,” she shared. She’s also discovered gems for her two adult children. Some of her favorite interactions are helping customers find the right supplies for their home improvement projects, too.
Hope has seen a lot at ReStore over the years. The number of customers—and the number of donations—has increased. She’s seen homebuilders come in with blueprints and helped shoppers find inspiration. She often reminds people to measure their spaces and keep those numbers handy—you never know what you might find, and things sell fast. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the people.
“The ReStore staff is so awesome. They’re helpful and appreciative. I get thanked 99.9% of the time I leave after my shift,” she said. “And if I haven’t been thanked, it’s because I snuck out before anyone noticed.” The other volunteers are just as supportive. Hope explained that a belief in Twin Cities Habitat’s mission unites people from a variety of backgrounds.
“I’ve always recycled, and I love helping customers get good deals. Plus, the funds go toward building houses,” said Hope. “Being here makes me feel like I’m making a difference.” Volunteers like Hope are a large part of the reason ReStore continues to thrive. If you’re interested in learning new things, consider trying a four-hour shift. In Hope’s own words, ReStore teaches people—and if you don’t have a skill yet, they can help you learn.