Habitat ReStore makes call for volunteers

Recruiting volunteers for the Habitat ReStore are, from left, Darlene Edwards, Habitat ReStore employee; Malynda Abbott, Habitat ReStore volunteer and Christina Scott, Habitat ReStore assistant manager.

Recruiting volunteers for the Habitat ReStore are, from left, Darlene Edwards, Habitat ReStore employee; Malynda Abbott, Habitat ReStore volunteer and Christina Scott, Habitat ReStore assistant manager.

Malynda Abbott just knew she couldn’t sit at home all day, every day.

Abbott retired from Blount County school system after working as a teaching assistant at Heritage High School in early December. Soon after, she began looking for some organization that had a need she could help fill.

Blount County Habitat for Humanity had just the right match for her, and Abbott now volunteers at the Habitat ReStore.

The store, now in a 29,000 square foot new home, needs more Abbotts.

Habitat ReStore supports the Blount County Habitat for Humanity programs. The new store at 548 Foothills Plaza Drive features household items, building supplies, clothing and more.

“I thought, ‘I’m not sitting here 24/7,” Abbott said. “The best thing I can do is volunteer my time to help somebody else have a home, clothing and the necessities. My mother always told me, never pass up an opportunity to do something good for someone else.”

Abbott helped the store make the move from the former Maryville Furniture Store building on College Street to the former Ross Furniture building at 548 Foothills Plaza Drive near Foothills Mall.

The new space is wonderful, all agree. But the need for volunteers to help keep the store open continues to grow.

Abbott said she enjoys volunteering. “I want everyone to be able to find what they need so they don’t have to go without the necessary things for everyday life.”

Assistant manager Christina Scott said the number of volunteers needed changes day to day, and they especially were essential when the operation was moving from the former Maryville Furniture Store building. “We wouldn’t be in this store without them,” she said.

ReStore management are asking folks to consider volunteering their time at the store.

Tony Gibbons, executive director of Blount County Habitat for Humanity, said revenue from the ReStore supports the “A Brush with Kindness” and Housing Repair Program to provide housing repair services and resources to low-income families in order to strengthen their financial and housing stability. “The repair work is done through our partnership with United Way of Blount County and the Housing Repair Collaborative - a combined effort of mission-driven, faith-based housing repair groups,” Gibbons said.

Progress on each project is prioritized by severity - ramps and roof repair are given first priority. Minor repairs can often lead to more serious, expensive and hazardous issues when they are left unaddressed. A simple roof leak can easily lead to a water-soaked floor that eventually sags and rots. These problems can become serious safety and health risks to the occupants, said Gibbons.

“Homes in disrepair can also lead to blighted appearances of entire neighborhoods. As with the homeownership program, volunteers are the cornerstone of operations,” Gibbons said.

The program, through its collaboration with the Housing Repair Collaborative, anticipates serving more than 200 individuals during the next year.

Board member Melissa Thompson said the board had been looking for a location for the last year and a half to two years for several reasons and the sale closed in February.

The new store had a soft opening on May 16 and a grand opening is planned for June 10. The hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m., Thompson said.

“They need volunteers,” said Thompson. “The store is primarily operated by volunteers, so the need is for folks who can work during open hours. They need help during any hours with running the register, sorting clothes and general sales.”

For more information or to volunteer call the Habitat ReStore at 865-379-9299.

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