In June 2015, we opened our new South Philadelphia ReStore at 2318 Washington Avenue. The ReStore is a discount home improvement store that accepts donations of new and gently-used furniture, building supplies, home décor and more, then resells those items to the public. 100% of profits go toward our homebuilding and home repair programs—in fact, within just five months of opening, the ReStore generated $100,000 for our work. It’s a win for shoppers, donors, and Habitat’s partner families. Our new ReStore was opened thanks to start-up funding from several key partners: The Barra Foundation, The Otto Haas Charitable Trust, The Haines Family Foundation, and Andy Kaplan/Rockland Capital. And now that the doors are open, our staff and volunteers are the heartbeat of the ReStore.
One member of our ReStore team is Faheem Carter, a volunteer-turned-employee who’s “Mr. ReStore” for many donors and customers. Faheem drives one of the ReStore’s box trucks and picks up donations from individuals and businesses across Philadelphia. Faheem says it’s Habitat’s mission that makes his job so great. “I’m one of the faces of our organization,” he says. “I can explain our mission to customers and donors and make them feel good about themselves. It’s such a reward.”
Faheem is a South Philadelphia native who started volunteering at the ReStore during renovations of the Washington Avenue location. He learned about the coming ReStore because of the six homes that Habitat was building just a few blocks south, in Point Breeze. “There was a buzz about things going on in the community,” he says. “I was doing construction before, so I was familiar with building supplies and dealing with customers, and the fast-paced environment. I thought it would be a good place to come help out—a good opportunity to learn new skills.”
He also sees the positive impact that the ReStore has on the South Philadelphia community. “Not only are customers getting something that’s going to improve their quality of life at home, but they’re also improving the quality of life for others,” Faheem says. “It’s a win-win.” And that’s something worth sharing with customers, donors and volunteers. “I get to educate them on Habitat. When they purchase something, that money goes towards building homes for people.”
As for what the future holds? Faheem sees big things on the horizon—and it all goes back to the relationships he’s building in the neighborhood and across the city. “The buzz is circulating throughout the community. It’s got so much more growth potential,” he says. “I think the ReStore has just scratched the surface of what they’re going to do for the community.”