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2 min read

How James Supports ReStore by Sorting Scrap Metal

How James Supports ReStore by Sorting Scrap Metal

James has been a ReStore volunteer since 2020, starting just after the pandemic began. But his connection to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity goes all the way back to 2013. James and his wife moved to the Twin Cities from Iowa and began to put down roots in their new community. A choir member at their new church was part of Holy Hammers, a Regular Crew at Twin Cities Habitat, and suggested James try volunteering. Eventually, James joined another Regular Crew, Bud’s Bunch, and discovered a whole network of connections. He even went on a Global Village trip to Costa Rica, where he learned more about Habitat for Humanity and building methods in other environments.

“Volunteering was a great way to make friends and meet people, especially when we were new to the area,” remembered James. “I found it easy to get started.”

Fast-forward to 2020: a global pandemic was in its early stages, and volunteer group sizes were limited. For James and Bud’s Bunch, that meant more people than work to do. As one of the older members of the group, James realized it might be time for him to try something new once again. When a Regular Crew member found out James was ready for a new opportunity, he told James about ReStore.

James sorting scrap metal at ReStore.

James started volunteering at ReStore’s scrap metal station, sorting and organizing materials for recycling. He usually serves two half-days each week—and if the weather’s nice, he walks to ReStore from his nearby home. A typical shift at the scrap metal station starts with looking at and organizing the barrels of materials by the donation door. If anything is sellable, it’s set aside. Then, James and his co-volunteer Chuck sort the leftover scrap metal to separate materials that have some value, like copper or brass. James and Chuck disassemble or cut apart some materials, then they sort everything into its designated barrel. Next, ReStore truck drivers take the barrels to Crow Wing Recycling. The revenue from the recycled metal supports Restore, and more than 13 tons of waste is kept from landfills.

Scrap metal barrels full of different materials.“Volunteering gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I contribute to recycling and save things from going to the landfill. I contribute to building homes for people who need them,” James said. “It’s nice to know what I’m doing is worthwhile. I miss it if I’m not here.”

While he still keeps in touch with friends from Bud’s Bunch, James enjoys the role he’s found at ReStore. Even though the method of his support has changed, he still furthers the mission of Twin Cities Habitat whenever he volunteers at ReStore. And by sorting scrap metal with other volunteers, he makes time for ReStore staff to focus on their roles which allows everyone’s impact to increase.

If you’re curious about getting started as a volunteer—whether on site, at ReStore, or in another role—James recommends evaluating your own skills. “We all have weak and strong points, and there are many ways to volunteer. You don’t need to have a high skill level,” he explained. “You can experiment and try different things. Chances are very good that you’ll find some way to give back, help others, and be rewarded.”

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