Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. This is our mission and it is driven by our vision for a world where everyone has a decent place to live. As an organization we are mission-focused, which means every action we take is done with the purpose of helping more families to own their safe, decent home.
Moreover, every individual who works for, volunteers with, or otherwise supports Habitat is vital to the mission. However, not everyone who helps the mission experiences the value of turning raw materials into homes. Like our ReStore employees, for instance. Our ReStores are heavily involved in helping raise money so that we can build homes, but outside of home dedications, ReStore employees rarely get to see the impact of their hard work.
Back in March, when the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused state-wide shutdowns, our ReStores were closed for nearly two months. At the same time, we had to suspend all volunteer activity. All at once, we found ourselves with no volunteers to help build homes, and a handful of employees unable to work. Integrity being one of our organization’s core values, leadership wanted to do everything possible to keep everyone employed. Circumstances being what they were, we saw an opportunity and we acted on it. So, our ReStore employees went to work on our construction sites.
“Going from a volunteer environment to suddenly having no volunteers was a bit of a shock,” says Construction Volunteer Manager David. “Having the ReStore come over on board – they were instrumental in the whole process.”
Plus, for the first time, many of them got to see the value of their work in a new light. Raising walls and turning raw materials into homes – “It’s an eye-opening thing,” says North Fort Myers Store Manager Brandon. “It makes it all a little more real.”
Nearly two months went by before our ReStores opened back up, and throughout that time, ReStore employees continued to work on the construction sites. “A lot of people could have stayed home,” David says. “People were not only willing, but they wanted to come to work and continue to earn their pay checks. They wanted to support their coworkers.”
Then, shortly after the ReStores reopened, our construction team had the opportunity to repay the favor. For a time, our North Fort Myers ReStore in particular was very short staffed. The construction team came in, helped to cover shifts, and supported the ReStore employees the way volunteers normally would.
“Teamwork is one of our core values,” says Brandon. “And everyone was able to live that out during that particular time.” In fact, our ReStores did really well considering the circumstances. “We did more than what we ever thought we could do,” Brandon says. “It showed the effectiveness of our team, and the value of having support from the construction staff.”
With integrity, teamwork and a true focus on our mission, our construction staff helped to increase sales within the ReStore, resulting in more funding than we’d ever imagined possible during a pandemic. “Sometimes, great things can come out of difficult times,” says North Fort Myers ReStore Manager Brandon. As an organization whose core values are integrity, mission focus and teamwork, these challenging times have really shown us how deeply those values run.