In 2012 Don Gustafson was hired as a Donations Receiving Assistant, otherwise known as the ReStore donation truck driver. He’s since logged more than 100,000 miles for ReStore, and operated in all types of weather. The temperature has ranged from -25 to 105 degrees, and has endured a lot wind, rain, and snow.
Don has since retired but found his way back to ReStore to assist when donation pick up requests skyrocket. I guess this technically isn't a retirement when he’s still driving a ReStore truck. “I tried retirement; it didn't take,” says Don. “This job remains the most interesting position I have held in my 50+ years of work experience. I give my customers back the space in their garages, while telling them about the work we do at the ReStore to support Habitat for Humanity's mission.”
Photo courtesy St. Paul Pioneer Press
Buying a home
Don and his wife Jo grew up in the Twin Cities; he in Minneapolis, she in St. Paul. They met in 1983 and married in 1985—later that year they bought the home in Roseville that they still own.
“We saw a house we liked with brick in the front and a fireplace, made an offer, and the house was ours,” Don says. Since then, he’s done many projects in the house—insulation, wiring, sheetrocking, wallpapering (and, later, de-wallpapering), installing new windows, tiling the bathroom, and building a shed. Lately, he’s been giving his porch a cabin-feel since they sold their family cabin.
Planning for the future
After retiring, they both wanted time and space for favorite projects—Jo wanted to continue crafting, and Don wanted to make cribbage boards (Don enjoys cribbage and is always up for a game). But they had inherited a lot of stuff, and realized they were running out of room. So they have started giving it away. After years of bringing other people’s donations to the ReStore, Don started hauling his own loads to the ReStore, by trailer or well-packed car.
Don volunteering at a Habitat all-staff build.
They didn’t have a will at the time, so they took the opportunity to create one. Without any legal heirs, they didn’t want to leave the future of their home up in the air. And they wanted their legacy to honor some of their favorite charities, like Disabled American Veterans, HHT, the Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel Foundation (they were married at that Chapel), the Animal Humane Society (they have rescue cats), and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.
Don and Jo didn’t realize they could leave their home to Habitat until they read an article about Bob, a veteran who decided to donate his home when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. For them, it was a no-brainer to do the same.
“The Habitat homeownership program meets our sensibilities,” Don says. They like that Habitat homebuyers pay a mortgage that’s affordable for them, and that they go through training to become well-prepared for homeownership. Don knows firsthand the rewards that come with good hard work and sees the hard work Habitat homeowners put into providing a home for their families.
Leaving a legacy
They would love their home to go to a veteran—Don served active duty in the Navy for three years and served in the Navy Reserves for 22 years. But if the home goes to someone else, or is sold by Habitat to build more homes, Don and Jo know their legacy will benefit a mission that’s aligned with their own values.
Don and Jo's home.
"Don is a great ambassador for ReStore and donors are always pleased with the customer service he provides, ReStore Donation Manager Robin Henrichsen says. "He is leaving a lasting impact on donors and mother earth by keeping items out of the waste stream. Thank you Don and Jo!"
- If you’re interested in leaving a legacy that supports Habitat’s mission, visit the planned giving section of the Twin Cities Habitat website.
- Spend a day volunteering at ReStore! Or become a regular volunteer and help the donation team. Click the big bottom below to see all volunteer positions.