Week 19, Day 3: Helping ReStore The Community

My dream of becoming a human GPS ended suddenly and tragically today and it’s nothing short of a miracle that I made it to and from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore given the number of wrong turns that occurred.

Enough of that.

After apologizing for my tardiness, I met Amy Paul, Habitat for Humanity ReStore volunteer coordinator. Amy actually started out as a Habitat volunteer before stepping on as the volunteer coordinator. Volunteering nets so many opportunities!

Amy gave me a few options on how to start my morning off, which included my guilty pleasure (data entry). I’m not sure if it’s the case over at Habitat, but when I worked as a volunteer coordinator, the “to-do” data entry pile was just a tower threatening to topple and any volunteer who offered to enter was high up on my list of Awesome People.

20140606_Habitat_Restore_04Diligently taking notes in preparation for some data entry!

Data entry ended soon enough, so off to the ReStore I went. Easily overwhelmed by stuff, I try to live a fairly minimalistic lifestyle (inspired, in part, by some of the volunteer experiences I’ve had) and steer clear of shopping malls. Occasionally, though, I find myself browsing the aisles of local thrift stores, with the Habitat ReStore ranking as one of my favorites. In fact, the best (and only) armchair I ever owned came from a Habitat ReStore in Wichita. Go figure.

ReStore proceeds help to cover overhead and staff salaries –two hugely important expenses. This is important because without offices and staff, nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity would struggle to help those in need. And while there are many grants out there to support projects, like building houses, it can be a tremendous challenge to find grants and funds to cover overhead and salary.  By shopping at the ReStore, you’re helping Habitat for Humanity ensure it can continue its focus of helping families in need.

When you walk into the ReStore, you’re immediately greeted by row after row of incredible furniture at incredible prices. Chairs of every color and material stand aside one another, while a nearby shelf threatens to burst with a multitude of plush pillows.  After admiring all the lovely furniture, I received my very own volunteer vest and my next set of instructions. The Habitat staff is organized and had a to-do list printed out and ready to go. Somijah, another volunteer, and I set to work organizing the linens, sheets, pillows, and overly-ruffled bed skirts.

20140606_Habitat_Restore_03Somijah, hard at work organizing the shelves.

 As someone who once spent two years sleeping in a sleeping bag to avoid buying a real bed, I simply cannot understand the purpose of a bedskirt. I hate to inform you, but after attempting to fold a million ruffled bedskirts today, I’m still baffled. In fact, I might be even more baffled.

20140606_Habitat_Restore_02Not a fan, ruffled bedskirt, not a fan.

My volunteering time came to a quick close and I found myself saying goodbye to Somijah and hanging up my volunteer vest. My only regret? Not finding an apartment closer to the ReStore!

20140606_Habitat_Restore_01Sad to hang up my volunteer vest.

 Thank you for reading! Like what you read? Kat Franchino is a freelance writer and an     avid blogger. She will happily take on any writing challenges. Contact her at katfranchino@yahoo.com or jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

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Live from the LPBC Radio Show

Jeremy, Sally, Alexandra, Pete, & Dwayne (from left to right)

Day 1. I feel like there should be some sort of dramatic “Law and Order” music playing right now. This morning I shadowed Jeremy Park – an important mover and shaker you should know if you don’t already. He is the vice president of communications for Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance, a member of its LLC, president of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club and hosts both the LPBC Radio Show (Saturdays 1-2 p.m. on News Radio 600 WREC) and television show, “The Spark” (the third Thursday of each month at 9 p.m. on WKNO-TV). Additionally, Jeremy writes the “Giving Back” column that appears each Sunday in The Commercial Appeal. The LPBC is an organization which hosts more than 150 free events throughout the course of the year to bring businesses together through community engagement. If you would like to learn more about the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, visit www.thelpbc.com.

I was lucky enough to shadow Jeremy on a day when he was recording his radio show with

Jeremy, Sally, Alexandra, Pete, & Dwayne (from left to right)

Jeremy, Sally, Alexandra, Pete, & Dwayne (from left to right)

three very special guests: Peter Tosches, the senior vice president of corporate communications for ServiceMaster; Sally Heinz, the executive director of Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA); and Dwayne Spencer, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis. Needless to say, I was amongst a great wealth of knowledgeable and service-minded people in the Memphis area.

First up was Pete Tosches from ServiceMaster – the umbrella company that owns

Peter Tosches, ServiceMaster

Peter Tosches, ServiceMaster

Terminix, Merry Maids, American Home Shield, ServiceMaster Clean, Furniture Medic, and AmeriSpec Inspection Services. It’s not a coincidence that “service” is the first word in the company name, according to Pete, who explained that service is embedded in the heritage of ServiceMaster and courses through all of its entities. Also a big philanthropist in the community, ServiceMaster often allows its employees to volunteer on company time. For example, every Tuesday Pete has a team that delivers Meals on Wheels while also engaging in a staff meeting during their car ride together.  Additionally, ServiceMaster is a huge advocate of Habitat for Humanity and remains one of the top builders and sponsors in Memphis! Pete explained that building a home together puts everyone on the same level and it’s a great teambuilding activity. You can learn more about what ServiceMaster has to offer at www.servicemaster.com.

Sally Heinz took the microphone next to represent MIFA, an organization founded by various religious leaders to help the community come together immediately following

Sally Heinz, MIFA

Sally Heinz, MIFA

Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. MIFA’s main programs focus on helping both families in crisis and the elderly gain independence through numerous programs.  MIFA distributes 1,200 meals every weekday for “Meals on Wheels,” and during the delivery of these meals, both the recipient and volunteer have a chance to connect by sharing stories and life experiences. Other programs include helping teenagers prepare for college, advocating for rights on behalf of nursing home residents, and making homes handicap accessible. MIFA even has a program where Memphis residents can add $1 to their monthly MLGW energy bills to be donated to MIFA. To learn more about MIFA and all of its programs, check out www.mifa.org.

Last but certainly not least, Dwayne Spencer from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis

Dwayne Spencer, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis

Dwayne Spencer, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis

was highlighted on the show. The organization Dwayne spearheads was originally founded to solve a housing crisis in rural Georgia by helping families in need of housing receive a newly built home to call their own. Habitat for Humanity walks these individuals through the entire homebuilding process from outreach to education and maintenance. This program actually saves the community costs, and it’s important to note that Habitat for Humanity will not build without a sponsorship. Furthermore, Habitat for Humanity operates a thrift store on Winchester Road called ReStore, which keeps furniture and goods out of landfills. The store relies heavily on volunteers for the daily operations. To find out more, go to www.memphishabitat.com and keep in mind that this past Saturday, March 28th was Executive Build Day where local executives were encouraged to come out and work together on a building project. Habitat for Humanity is always looking for volunteers and no construction experience is necessary!

Though I wasn’t in the hot seat, I felt like I was in an episode of “Frasier” while in the radio booth. Jeremy had a producer in the next room who recorded the interviews, which I enjoyed experiencing live because of the energy that emanated from the dialogues. How lucky am I to witness these conversations and meet some pretty fantastic members of the community at the same time!?

After the radio show, Jeremy and I went to lunch, during which he offered me priceless advice on how to set myself apart from the competition in the job market and create a stellar professional reputation. He provided brutally honest feedback on my resume, for which I am truly grateful. He also kindly gave me a copy of his book, Giving Back with Purpose: Fueling Growth through Community Involvement.

My first day of Volunteer Odyssey was a huge success – stay tuned for Day 2!

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job in writing, event planning, communications, or teaching. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com or aesamsell@gmail.com.

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