By Eileen Persike
Habitat for Humanity Northwoods has a goal of building two homes per year for economically disadvantaged families. That translates to fundraising some $200,000 per year for the non-profit organization. The recently opened Habitat for Humanity ReStore on North Stevens Street in Rhinelander is expected to contribute considerably to the bank account.
“We need to raise the money first, have it in the bank before we build,” said board president Ray Burgan. “We get about $30,000 per year in mortgage payments, and $20,000 in donations. ReStore sales should bring in $40,000 to $50,000 a year, at least.”
Unexpected donations have recently come in for Habitat for Humanity Northwoods; a $5,000 grant from Wisconsin Public Service and another $500 donation from Rhinelander Auto Center.
Habitat for Humanity had a large storage shed in Minocqua that Burgan said was “full of stuff,” but no building from which to sell it, so one of the first tasks Burgan took on as President was finding a building.
“Finding a building was critical,” he said. “There were donations coming in – there was no light at the end of the tunnel.”
He found the former Five Flags restaurant and worked out a leasing arrangement. George Allen was hired as the store manager, the old kitchen equipment torn out, walls were built, donated shelves were put in place and the store opened — all within a span of three months.
Today the ReStore has for sale building supplies such as doors, windows, ceiling fans, kitchen cabinetry and lighting as well as home furnishings including Terry Redlin prints, lamps, chairs, sofas, tables and dressers.
Burgan said they are not competing with the area thrift stores. When they receive merchandise they cannot use, they will send it St. Matthias or Nativity of Our Lord’s shops, and refer customers to other locations if the ReStore doesn’t have what the shopper is looking for.
Allen is the store’s only employee; it is run essentially by volunteers.
“We can always use volunteers,” Burgan stressed. “We could use help from people with trucks and trailers to pick up donations, we could use board members, committee members, fundraisers and people to work at the store.”
Many volunteers say they want to “swing a hammer,” and Burgan said eventually, when they have the money to build a couple of homes; there will be plenty of construction work to do.
The ReStore is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Anyone wishing to call to volunteer, make a donation or to schedule a pickup should call 715-420-2301.