By Laura Swanson
There’s been a transformation at Tillamook Habitat for Humanity during the past two years as Cami Aufdermauer took over the reins as executive director. More projects, more activity and more enthusiasm for the grassroots national program that locally helps low income families own their own homes. The largest revenue stream for the Tillamook Habitat program is the ReStore in Bay City. The ReStore is a home improvement discount outlet selling new and used building and remodeling materials, home furnishings and much more to the general public.
After years without a stable manager, Melissa Finnell joined the team in December and hit the ground running. “Her 12 years of managing the Women’s Resource Center’s Wildflower Thrift Store made Melissa the PERFECT choice to manage our ReStore,” said Cami. “And she has been amazing! Just look at this place, it’s so organized and clean. Melissa is awesome,” enthused Cami.
“This type of work is near and dear to my heart,” said Melissa. “I was the welfare mom, I am ‘those’ people, and I’m the first one to help provide opportunities and helping people make their house a home,” she added. Reuse, recycle and re-purpose are the themes here. “The ReStore can really help with a variety of home needs,” said Melissa. “Let us know what your are looking for, we have ‘personal shoppers’ that will help find it. And this is tool heaven. We’ve got that do-hickey for that thing-a-ma-bob,” she chuckled.
To keep things fresh and new, the ReStore is always looking for clean, working usable items, and they have a truck that will come by and pick up. “We will gladly take your treasures,” said Melissa, “but we can’t afford to take trash.” Or even better, you can drop off donated items six days per week.
Another important program at the ReStore is their designation as a “job services supported worksite.” This is a training program that provides a way for people re-entering or just entering the work force to get valuable job experience. This is an opportunity for teens who’ve never had a job or someone whose struggled to gain employment. “Through the jobs program, we’ve worked with a variety of diverse backgrounds, and we make it work for everyone,” said Cami. “We’ve seen people from all walks of life,” said Melissa. “And everyone has tangible skills that we can put to work.”
Then there are the volunteers. “We really are just like family here,” said Cami. “It’s a positive place and all our volunteers find value in their efforts. And we make sure they feel valued.” Older volunteers are paired with teens, and the intergenerational and social impacts gives everyone a new lease on life.
The ReStore and Tillamook Habitat for Humanity are always looking for more volunteers and donations. “When you donate your unwanted, unused household items to the ReStore it gives back TWICE – it generates income for Habitat and the items goes to good use in a new home,” said Cami. The Habitat ReStore diverts approximately 200 tons of usable materials from landfills each year.
The Tillamook Habitat for Humanity ReStore is located in Bay City at 6500 Williams Avenue, just past the Tillamook Country Smoker. Open hours for the public are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. Donations are accepted six days a week (Monday through Saturday), and pickup of donations can be arranged by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 503-377-0204. Follow the ReStore on Facebook for “hot deals” on new merchandise at Tillamook Habitat for Humanity Restore or see their website at tillamookhabitat.org/restore. All donations are tax deductible, so bring in new or gently used items today, or schedule a pickup. Items change daily at the ReStore, so stop by often and browse the ever-changing selection, thanks to the good works of new ReStore manager Melissa Finnell