The Habitat for Humanity ReStore, just off Mill Plain Boulevard, takes home improvement donations and makes them available to customers who might need anything including the kitchen sink. The ReStore raises funds to help Habitat for Humanity build affordable homes in the Vancouver area. And, they keep usable materials out of the waste stream and into home building, remodeling and DIY (do it yourself) creative arts projects.
The DIY Corner
As you walk into the expansive showroom at the Clark County ReStore your eyes will be drawn to colorful repurposed chandeliers and intriguing wind chimes hanging from a post. You might be interested in a wooden bench made from parts of an old bed frame. Or, what about lighthouse yard art made from a ceramic sink pedestal and part of a lamp? This is the “DIY Corner,” where you can get inspiration for projects of your own or even make a purchase.
I found Pam Israel, Sales Floor Supervisor and a dedicated DIY volunteer who assists her once a week, ready to inspire me. Israel put together a picture book of DIY projects all made from scrap items at the store. As we flipped through the book I saw projects Israel made at home and at the store. They ranged from planters to birdbaths and wind chimes.
Israel’s eyes lighted up as she showed me how she put together the tall lighthouse. Yes, there was some rewiring to be done, but mostly what it took was a keen eye and a creative mind. Israel explains, “I like to see what I can create.” The volunteer, who works with her, was so inspired by Israel’s ability to see beauty in discarded objects that she asked to volunteer solely with the DIY projects.
Israel has inspired many at the store. While I was there, a volunteer who was going through the metal scrap bin came up to Israel with a real find. He was excited to share what he had found with her. In his hand was a metal unicorn head and crystal, salvaged from a broken figurine. It was perfect for the new wind chime she was creating.
She finds most of what she uses for projects at the store but also is a fan of local Dollar Stores where she finds things like paint and, her most recent favorite, battery operated tea lights that change colors. Those, she puts inside round glass balls salvaged from old lamps to create garden gazing balls that will mesmerize you at night.
Dedicated to Habitat for Humanity
There’s a back-story to Israel’s dedication to Habitat for Humanity. Yes, she is a paid employee but she’s also a Habitat homeowner. Fifteen years ago she moved into a new home in downtown Vancouver, courtesy of Habitat for Humanity. She, her husband and four children are proud homeowners and understandably passionate about the mission of Habitat for Humanity.
If you look around Israel’s home you’ll find evidence of more DIY projects… a chandelier planter, repurposed sconces hanging on the fence planted with cascading greenery.
Habitat ReStore Rehabs Discards
Throughout the day contractors and homeowners pull up at the donation station. They unload furniture, appliances, cabinets, doors, windows, plumbing, paint, flooring, tile, tools, and much more. And, the store takes things that aren’t in perfect working condition.
In the back, you’ll find volunteers working to sort the donations. Some may be sold for scrap metal. The day Israel took me on a tour, a volunteer was working on an old lawn edger. It looked rusted and it wasn’t working but the volunteer could see that rebuilding the machine, cleaning it and oiling it would make it run again.
The store accepts small things too. Mismatched dishware, glasses and old pots and pans filled shelves in a housewares area. This was a favorite haunt of DIYers who may break ceramic dishes to use on a mosaic project or turn a wine glass and glass lamp part into a candle holder. The possibilities are endless if you are inspired!
DIY is Growing
Just look at Pinterest pictures, TV shows and magazine articles. You’ll see that the popularity of DIY recycled art is growing. Israel credits the annual Recycled Arts Festival in downtown Vancouver with inspiring her. She and the volunteer who works with her at the store both volunteer at the festival and spend time exploring what others do with found objects.
When Israel started showing the results of her creative efforts in the little DIY Corner of the store, people not only were inspired, they wanted to purchase some of the art. So once an item is on display for awhile as a source of inspiration, the Habitat ReStore will consider selling it. And, of course, the money goes back into the store and Habitat for Humanity projects.
Right now Israel and the volunteer are working on garden pots. She will be demonstrating some DIY garden projects at an upcoming open house celebrating an expansion of operating hours at the store. Beginning May 1, the Habitat ReStore will be open on Sundays for shopping and dropping off donations.
When You Go to the Habitat ReStore
Clark Co. Habitat ReStore
10811 SE Second Street
This is one block south of Mill Plain just off 205.
Hours: Beginning May 1, open 7 days a week, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.