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“The greatest thing I think I’ve ever done” | Larry’s Volunteer Story

Larry happily contributes to Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live by designing and constructing fixtures for our ReStores.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of Habitat for Humanity’s mission. Among them is Larry, a snowbird who spends winters in Lee County with his wife. He landed in Fort Myers in December 2023, eager to contribute to transformative work in the Southwest Florida community.

Having been familiar with Habitat for many years and having donated items to ReStores before, it seemed like the logical place to start his volunteering journey. A self-proclaimed “jack of all trades,” Larry started volunteering at our South Fort Myers ReStore in January 2024. Since then, he has dedicated 175 hours of volunteer time with us.

“I’m a pretty handy guy,” Larry said. “I do all kinds of projects, so I figured Habitat might be able to put some of my talents or skills to good use.” Not only were his skills put to good use, but his talents and commitment enhanced the South ReStore’s operations.

Larry helps build one of many display fixtures at the South Fort Myers Restore.

“Larry just took the reins and had some great ideas,” South Fort Myers ReStore Manager Susan Eaton said. From how to display items such as fans, art and lighting to building the actual display fixtures, Larry made the store more accessible and shoppable. “He was just amazing, as are all our volunteers,” Susan said.

Larry also shared his great ideas with the North Fort Myers ReStore, which was closed for 16 months due to Hurricane Ian damage. “He was huge in helping us reopen and getting the headboards and artwork departments organized and safe,” North Fort Myers ReStore Manager Brandon Eiland said.

Larry built and designed door and window racks for the North ReStore, constructing 20 racks in total. He then worked with a team of six to seven volunteers called Chapel by the Sea. “He took the responsibility of supervising that project, which was a blessing because, at that point, the store was really, really busy,” Brandon said. “He was able to lead those guys by sharing his designs, technique and skill set.”

What stood out to Brandon about Larry was his humility, leadership, and willingness to share his talents. For Larry, the respect and admiration are mutual. “I can’t speak highly enough of the teams that I worked with,” Larry said. “They were so welcoming and so open to my suggestions. It was just so comfortable.”

With Habitat feeling like a home away from home, Larry was touched when he walked into a going-away party the ReStore staff organized before he headed back up north. “It was like I had been there for 10 years,” Larry said. “It was just amazing. I was so taken by it.”

The ReStores are a key part of funding Habitat’s home-building efforts. Everyone who engages with our mission is working to address the critical need for affordable housing in Lee and Hendry counties. “He really cares about the quality of his work and being able to contribute and make an impact on the mission,” Brandon said of Larry.

Larry is now back in Minnesota. However, his flights are already booked to return to Lee County in December. “The day after we arrive, I’ll be at the store,” Larry said, looking forward to volunteering at the ReStores again. “I told my wife, ‘This is about the greatest thing I think I’ve ever done.’”

Want to join volunteers like Larry at a ReStore? See volunteer opportunities here.