Habitat to double builds in northeastern Connecticut
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Mon., Nov. 11, 2013
Doors and windows were stacked outside the small Habitat Re-Store on Providence Street in Putnam last weekend. Five new toilets waited for buyers. Store manager Marcy Dawley had no choice but to leave them outside. Furniture, lighting fixtures and brand new cleaning products lined the shelves and every bit of floor space of the 1,000-square-foot facility.
The good news is that the store will soon be moving to Plainfield, where a large facility will be able to accommodate even more donations. The new store will also provide space for volunteer training sessions. The move is part of a larger shifting of staff and resources after Habitat of Northeastern Connecticut merged with Habitat of Southeastern Connecticut. The organization is now Habitat of Eastern Connecticut.
The merge will allow Habitat to do more in the northeastern part of the state, according to Resource Development Manager of Habitat of Eastern Connecticut Amy D’Amico. “We’ll be able to leverage paid Habitat staff to do more in the northeast,” she said. “Now our goal is to complete a home a year in eastern Windham County.”
That would be double what it’s been for the last several years if they can pull it off. Two properties for future work have been identified in Putnam and Killingly. The Putnam project is slated for an early 2014 start. What will help fuel the process are sales from the Re-Store. With a bigger showroom in Plainfield, more donations can be accepted and stored. More sales will mean more money for building and rehab projects.
The new location will give Dawley and her volunteer staff some breathing room for donations. “We won’t have to move stuff all the time,” she said. Dawley follows Habitat’s pricing guideline for items. Generally they sell at 50 to 60 percent of the original price. Every 30 days items are discounted an additional 20 percent. “The goal is to price it right the first time,” she said.
Re-Store offers a “Frequent Flyer” program where 10-percent discounts kick in after spending $500.
Habitat is important because there are families in eastern Connecticut who are living in substandard conditions, according to D’Amico. “Habitat provides a permanent solution by having a homeownership model,” she said. “It benefits communities too. Families buy homes. They become invested members of the community. They pay taxes. It’s good all around.”
To date, there have been nine completed builds, two sites identified as future builds and two as potential builds in eastern Windham County. D’Amico hopes that the Re-Store move will encourage more donations, draw in more volunteers, and put the organization on track for readying one home a year for area families.
Volunteers take an hour long orientation session called “Foundations of Habitat.” The session includes a historical overview of the organization, information on local efforts and safety videos. “People don’t need experience or training,” D’Amico said. For more information, go to www.habitat.org.