Helping Hands: Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore can fulfill your DIY needs

Tom Giffey

Whether you’re an experienced do-it-yourselfer or a novice still struggling to remember which screwdriver is a Phillips (hint: the end looks like a plus sign), completing a home remodeling project can instill a warm feeling of accomplishment. So can donating to a good cause. With its ReStore, Chippewa Valley Habitat for Humanity intends to give you both feelings at once. In fact, shopping at the ReStore – which sells donated, discounted building supplies and home goods – can help lower-income families with their own remodeling project.

In the coming year, Habitat for Humanity plans to use the proceeds from the ReStore, which opened last summer, to significantly boost the number of remodeling projects it undertakes in the Chippewa Valley, Executive Director Aaron Czappa said. In the near future, Habitat also hopes to increase the number of new houses it builds for clients. Typically, the chapter builds one home annually – this year, that will be in Osseo – and it hopes to increase that to two houses each year.

While Habitat has always done smaller repair projects as well, such work has been sporadic in recent years. But thanks to a recent $5,000 donation from the Menomonie Lions Club, Habitat will complete five repair projects in Menomonie in the coming year. It will also undertake several in Eau Claire. As with home construction projects, recipients of home repairs are chosen because they have limited assets and have difficulty maintaining their homes because of income or ability. Projects are completed with volunteer labor and “sweat equity” from homeowners.

Czappa said the local Habitat board of directors is undertaking a strategic plan to determine how many new homes and repairs it can undertake each year. Ultimately, they hope to increase their activity to building two new homes and conducting 12 repair projects.

If you’re planning on putting a little sweat into your own dwelling, the ReStore (145 N. Clairemont Ave., near the intersection of Clairemont and Menomonie Street) can help. The store’s top sellers include furniture and appliances, as well as built-in items such as cabinets and sinks. Do-it-yourselfers will also find carpet, door trim, paint, light fixtures, toilets, hardware, and more. Because the store relies on donations, what’s in stock can change frequently, store manager Nick Gross said.

Gross added that the store is interested in selling more housewares, including dishes, and small items of home décor. Keep that in mind when you begin spring cleaning and find you have some things to give away.

Donations come from individuals who are decluttering their homes, as well as from contractors, retailers, and others in the community. For example, Eau Claire contractor Market & Johnson recently donated several truckloads of cabinets, doors, and other items removed from its own headquarters as part of a remodeling project.

In addition to raising money for Habitat’s home-building and restoration efforts, Czappa noted that the store also provides another benefit to the community: high-quality used merchandise that would otherwise be unaffordable to some people. Customers include both middle class and low income people, as well as college students outfitting their apartments.

While there about 1,000 Habitat for Humanity ReStores nationwide, many people in the Chippewa Valley are still learning about the one in Eau Claire. While thousands of people drive by it every day on Clairemont Avenue, many people assume the store is simply an office until they stop and shop.

“Once they find us, they’re super excited we’re here and they come back,” said Gross, the store manager.

Chippewa Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore • 145 N. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire (accessible from westbound Clairemont Avenue by exiting on Park Ridge Drive) • 10am-4pm Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and 10am-6pm Thursday • donations accepted during store hours and by appointment • (715) 895-8177 • •

Home Remodel is sponsored by:

Chippewa Valley
Home Builders Assoc.

4319 Jeffers Rd, Ste 103
Eau Claire, WI