Volunteer Spotlight: Keith Nonnenmacher

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Habitat ReStore Volunteer for 2 years
Three words he uses to describe his experience with us: Fun, Inspiring, and Meaningful

Meet Keith, a dedicated volunteer who’s been making a significant impact at the Fishers Habitat ReStore since 2021. Before joining the Fishers team, he started his Habitat volunteer journey at the Charlottesville Habitat Store in Virginia back in 2019. After relocating to Indiana, he dove into the world of the Greater Indy Habitat ReStores. Since his inception in 2021, Keith has generously contributed 730 hours to the Fishers ReStore, a testament to his unwavering commitment. His dedication didn’t go unnoticed, as he was recognized as one of the 2022 Volunteer of the Year award recipients, having chalked up an impressive 377 hours. 

Keith’s passion lies in working with his hands, building, and fixing things. At the Fishers ReStore, he’s taken on the role of lighting maestro, expertly assembling light fixtures. When asked about his motivation to keep returning to the ReStore, he emphasizes his enjoyment in working with both the staff and customers. Keith’s specific area of interest, donated lighting, brings him immense satisfaction as he artfully arranges the lights to make them appealing to customers. His favorite aspect of volunteering, however, is the interactions with customers as they unearth hidden treasures at the ReStore. Over time, Keith has built connections with regular customers, and he eagerly anticipates hearing about how a ReStore find integrates into their home improvement projects. 

When Keith shares advice for prospective volunteers, he emphasizes the ever-present need for help at the ReStore and encourages them to give it a try. He suggests that finding one’s niche within the ReStore can be an incredibly rewarding experience, adding that seeing the positive impact they can make may lead to more volunteering hours than initially planned. 

As for memorable moments, Keith modestly shares that his most cherished one was receiving the Volunteer of the Year award in 2022. It’s a testament to his dedication and the gratification he derives from his volunteer work. Keith’s journey is a true testament to the joy and fulfillment that volunteering can bring, not just to those he serves but to himself as well. 

We thank you, Keith, for being a true champion of Habitat and serving the community with us. There are many opportunities to give your time and talents within the ReStore. Click here to learn more about ways to get involved.

Hear about our other inspiring volunteers!

ReStore Reuse: Suitcases

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David Hazel, ReStore Associate Director, shares his latest DIY project inspired by the ReStore.

Of the many cool things about working for the ReStore–like funding the building of homes, keeping millions of pounds of stuff out of the landfills, offering quality products to people at a low price, and helping to spread the word about the good work Habitat for Humanity does–finding interesting items that can find a new life is a particularly gratifying and creatively rewarding possibility.

There are so many destined-for-the-dumpster items that I’ve rescued over the years, but one that I’ve really had fun with was creating cat beds from old suitcases! While it wasn’t my idea (I think I found it on Pinterest), I thought it was a good one. An old suitcase can make a quirky and cool piece of furniture that your cat will enjoy as much as you do, and I love that you can tailor this project to fit your own style and taste.

Here’s how you do it:

Find a suitcase that you like at a ReStore. Don’t worry if you don’t find one on a Monday, as there may be a completely different selection by that Friday.

Then, find some furniture feet or decorative wood pieces to make some legs. You can easily attach them by screwing through the suitcase into the legs. I found some really interesting ones that I stained a nice dark color to match a friend’s century-old Louisville home. Don’t go from the legs into the suitcase, or you may have some sharp screws sticking up into your feline friend’s sleeping area!

After getting some legs on it, get creative and add tiny framed pictures on the inside lid, or little pillows or stuffed animals, a catnip toy, and a nice blanket for comfort. It’s amazing how instantaneously your cat will climb in and make himself comfy.

Pillows, furniture feet and suitcases are all items you can typically find at a ReStore. The cat, however, you’ll have to pick up at your local animal shelter or Humane Society!

What’s Your ReStore DIY Style?

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Andy Duncan, ReStore Development, shares the variety of DIY styles found in our ReStores this year.

The ReStore is not an antique store necessarily, just a modest a thrift shop that serves a great mission. However, every day we see a number of remarkable furniture pieces that are donated to us, so if you’re a savvy thrift shopper, you can find a great deal on a variety of styles.

Since my wife and I purchased our first home a few years ago, most of it has been furnished with great finds at the ReStore. (By the way, as a ReStore employee I’m not allowed to buy anything until it’s been on the sales floor 24 hours, giving the intrepid regular customers an advantage.) Everyone who comes to visit us will inevitably have to sit through me pointing out all the decorations and furniture that came from the ReStore. I can’t help it – it’s just such an amazing operation, if I can toot our own horn for a second. When at its best, the ReStore is a win-win-win: we take unwanted (but still good, usable) items from generous donors who may otherwise send them to a landfill given no other options, sell them to the public who get great deals on anything used to furnish or build a home for their DIY projects, and raise funds to aid our mission of eliminating poverty housing in Greater Indianapolis.

The secret to the ReStore’s success, the reason we are able to provide upwards of 45% of funding for the Greater Indy Habitat affiliate, is volume – a steady flow of donated product. To that end, we put a lot of thought into the our pricing of merchandise, making sure it’s fair and will move out the door within two weeks or so. If a given item, particularly in our furniture/decor section, doesn’t move in that time, we typically price it down and give it another couple of weeks until it does sell and make room for the next donated item on the sales floor.

Here is a little spin around some of the treasures the ReStore hosted this past year.

We often get brand new items like these contemporary dressers that still have their hardware packed in foam. 

Or, nice contemporary furniture with only light usage like this tufted couch originally from Urban Outfitters.

And this Ethan Allen dinette set.

These types of items show up in other sections as well, like this chandelier from our lighting area. 

But of course the real deals are the truly vintage finds like this bedroom suite with the clean modern-esque lines.

Or this romantic secretary desk.

Or even this hand-carved bookcase that looks like it may just be covering a doorway to Narnia. 

So if you want a crack at the best stuff and some truly unique, contemporary, and antique styles, come by our ReStores often – it’s our job to make sure it’s a new store every week!

ReStore Reuse: Wooden Pallets

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Written by Andy Duncan, ReStore Development

Reuse is the raison d’etre of the ReStore. Of the three “R’s” we’re all taught are crucial to environmental responsibility and green living – the “Reduce” part being heavily reliant on personal lifestyle change, and the “Recycle” part typically taken on by infrastructure – the Reuse component falls heavily on charity and thrift shops to make reusable donation available to the public and ReStore does so with categories of items most other thrift stores do not.

As such, we at the ReStore spend a fair amount of time imagining all the possibilities in the donations we get. Sure, most things donated and purchased at the ReStore will find use somewhere close to their intended purpose, but there are still plenty of things at the ReStore that with a little imagination can be utterly repurposed. The last time I posted on the blog, I was turning light fixtures into terrariums. That’s just one example of the myriad projects that can be found at your typical ReStore. Another employs one of the most abundant resources found at any ReStore: wooden pallets.

Being raw wood arrayed in an alternating pattern in two planes a few inches apart, there are a number of things pallets could be readily be used as, such as this one intrepid gardener who turned mostly-intact pallets into a trellis for raspberries. Another intrepid DIY-er used pallets to make a headboard for a king-sized bed.


Reclaimed lumber from pallets is most versatile, usable for anything that requires actual wood. But we did just get a large donation of decorative wall panels that are laminate with wood grain pattern finishes over composite wood material (see photo below!). This kind of material is less versatile than real wood, but has more design potential. We’ve been selling them several boxes at a time, and I’m excited to see what the DIY-ers who have been picking these up end up doing with them. The ReStore is the perfect place to find materials and inspiration for a DIY imagination.

A ReStore “Pinterest Unicorn”: Andy

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Written by Andy Duncan, ReStore Development Coordinator

At this year’s Habitat for Humanity Global Conference, I was able to speak with several other ReStore folks from affiliates across the country, and one of the topics that came up several times was the illusive “Pinterest Unicorn.”

For those who don’t know, Pinterest is a social media platform wherein crafty folk from all over can post and assemble pictures demonstrating the results of their hobbies. So the idea of donors and shoppers repurposing materials from the ReStore – turning vents into light fixtures, doors into garden benches, and lamp globes into planters – is an enticing and exciting one for us! At the conference we all mused and dreamed of such donors/customers bringing in picture after picture of their deft feats of re-use.

But in reality, we call them unicorns because, well, they are rare – perhaps even mythical. Not anymore! After myriad discussions with my peers and colleagues, I set off to not only find a Pinterest Unicorn, but to actually become one! I give you my new hobby: turning old light fixtures into terrariums.

It’s rather simple and inexpensive. First, you find the light you want to use – about $10 at one of our three ReStore locations. Next, remove the lighting parts; this is usually just a couple of screws undone with a wrench or two.

Then you needs some rocks (these are free, outside). Put a layer one to two inches deep at the bottom of your light fixtures for drainage. You will need some activated charcoal – this is pretty cheap in the aquarium aisle of your local pet store. Sprinkle a layer of this over your rocks for moisture filtration. Next place some moss – the kind that comes with hanging plant pots these days ($2 at a hardware store) – over this mixture. Then you need some dirt and sand, these can also be free but it’s recommended you get them free of earth-bound creatures who may not appreciate finding themselves trapped in a new glass house. Mix these together and fill a layer two inches on top of the rocks, charcoal, and moss!

Finally, you need some small moisture-loving plants. I’ve done well with ferns and certain types of succulents; ask your local garden center about these. You may need to cover and uncover the terrarium periodically to get the moisture level stabilized, letting water evaporate to lessen moisture level or misting to up the moisture level. And Voila! Do I have a rainbow horn coming out of my forehead yet?

Do you have a DIY project that can be created from ReStore products? Share a photo with us on our ReStore Facebook pages for Indy, Greenfield or Avon!

ReStore and the Giving BackPack: Andy

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At the ReStore, we do more than just raise funds for the Habitat mission and get our customers great deals on home improvement items; we also actively engage with the community. The ReStore is one of the most publicly visible parts of our organization. The ReStore is open six days a week and has three locations, one in each county we serve – Marion, Hancock, and Hendricks. We certainly have our share of volunteer help from the community, but the ReStore space itself is more than just retail space, and most folks coming in to donate or shop may not realize this.

For example, the ReStore team is happy to be continuing a relationship we started last year with The Giving BackPack: a non-profit whose mission is to provide school supplies for students who can’t afford them. After qualifying by showing need from financial hardship, for a small restocking fee (about the price of a backpack), a student can get all their school supplies at no cost for the whole school year – up to four refills – through the program. I met with Cecil Collins, the CEO and founder of The Giving BackPack to discuss the partnership with the Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

 You started this program in Merrillville; what lead to you bring it to Indianapolis?
“Yes, we started in 2011 in Merrillville, and I moved for my job and wanted to start it again here in my new community.”

 What impact have you seen so far in Indianapolis?         
“We’ve really come to understand there is a lot of need here in Indianapolis. It’s coming in on a school-based level. Currently, we’re serving two schools and it will only grow from there. We’re really going for notoriety now: trying to get our name and the mission out there as much as possible.”

How has the partnership with Habitat been?             
“Excellent. I couldn’t ask for more. Habitat has been open, accommodating, and overly-supportive. It’s easy, that’s it; it’s easy. I don’t have to worry about it, and the space at the ReStore is really perfect for our needs.”

What is the future of The Giving BackPack in 2017?         
“We’re doing a car raffle now; we’ll hopefully raise funds for the school supply pantry by the end of the year and be able to expand into more schools. The partnership between The Giving BackPack and Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity has been huge for families we serve, and being able to join in helping the families Habitat already serves has been an honor.”

We at the Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity ReStore are proud to partner with other community-based non-profit organizations that further serve the Habitat mission by providing resources essential to homeownership, like quality education.

Learn more about The Giving BackPack and how you can apply for their program.

For more information about how the ReStore partners with other organizations and aids the habitat mission, “Like” our pages on Facebook and stay tuned to this blog.


Cabinet Company Finds Bedder Way

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High-quality, Unfinished Cabinets Available at the ReStore

Like many local companies, Bedder Way Murphy Bed and Cabinet Company has regularly donated cabinets to the ReStore over the past few years. Unlike most corporate donations, these cabinets are specifically made by Bedder Way for the Greater Indy Habitat ReStores to sell. While making their custom cabinets, Bedder Way ends up with excess of cabinet-grade plywood that doesn’t fit the measurement requirements for the company’s usual product. However, these pieces are large enough to make high-quality unfinished cabinets for the ReStore. These cabinets will show up on the sales floor of our ReStores every couple of months for purchase. They will make a beautiful addition to shoppers’ homes.

The ReStore appreciates donations from our many commercial donors. We are grateful for those partners who go out of their way to use their skills, resources, and expertise to give the ReStore, and ultimately Habitat families, a great boost. Discover how your business can partner with the ReStore by contacting Andy Duncan at 317.777.6078.