By Ben Rodgers
ASHWAUBENON – Volunteers make the ReStore what it is and because of that they have been honored by the Volunteer Center of Brown County.
The ReStore volunteers won the large group award at the 30th WPS Volunteer Awards on April 19.
“It’s rewarding. You feel good, it’s a good thing,” said Dan Landwehr, a volunteer who has been with the organization since the day he painted the walls before it opened in 2009. “It’s a rewarding experience. I gain as much as I give.”
The ReStore is an arm for the Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity, where 255 volunteers give their time.
The store is like a Goodwill mixed with Home Depot and offers everything from flooring, to doors, to lighting fixtures. It sells home renovation materials that are either purchased or donated.
In 2017, the 255 volunteers donated 12,091 hours at the ReStore.
“A lot of it is just the camaraderie,” said John Jasmer, a volunteer for the past four years. “The other thing is we like to help Habitat (for Humanity) as much as we can, too. It’s going to a really worthy cause.”
Habitat for Humanity has built 108 homes in Brown County, serving more than 490 individuals, including 312 children.
When a family applies, they must meet certain financial requirements, like being able to make payments on the mortgage, and also completing a volunteer component.
Called Sweat Equity Hours, heads of a two-parent household must volunteer 500 hours to be eligible for a home.
While Habitat for Humanity helps families, families in turn volunteer at the ReStore, or on the job site to help themselves.
ReStore volunteers aren’t made up entirely of families that benefit from Habitat for Humanity. Many of the volunteers are retired people or students looking for a way to give back and have fun at the same time.
“They’re some of the most dedicated, hardest working people I’ve ever seen,” said Colleen Peters, program and marketing manager for Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity.
Peters said without their drive and dedication, the ReStore couldn’t operate, and without the ReStore, Habitat for Humanity in the area wouldn’t be able to do what it does.
Peters said the award is meaningful in that it provides volunteers with proof that their work is recognized.
“It’s huge,” Peters said. “Our ReStore volunteers are very humble people, they don’t seek out that recognition… They’re so humble and I don’t think they realize what they do for ReStore. We wouldn’t be able to operate without them.”
Volunteers work the cash registers, strip unsellable donations for recycling, prep merchandise and drive and pack trucks to pick up donations.
By accepting donations of used furniture, appliances and building materials, the ReStore has been able to divert 5.5 million pounds of unwanted products from area landfills since 2009.
For this year’s awards the Volunteer Center of Brown County had close to 150 nominations across eight categories.
An independent panel of judges picked the winners. At the April 19 event, 1,700 volunteers were honored.
“It’s really an overall recognition of how much better the community is because of all the volunteers do in our community,” said Meg Deem, community development and special events for the Volunteer Center.
The ReStore is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Donations are accepted during business hours.
It is located at 2965 Ramada Way, behind the Woodworkers Depot.
People interested in volunteering can visit restoregb.org for more information, or call Julia at 338-1650.
More information can also be found on Facebook by searching Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity ReStore.