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Letter: A salute to ReStore staff from the past

I’m puzzled how these years of broad-based support and consistent activity could change so much to the point that a city of 100,000 can no longer support this history


Recent negative news about Habitat for Humanity Kamloops and the relocation of its ReStore to Salmon Arm has been disappointing.

I’d like to honour ReStore’s long history of strong community support, based on years as its manager. My sincere apologies for items and names missed as it’s been many years.

More than 50 volunteers were the heart and soul of ReStore.

Cathy cashiered weekly and monthly totalled volunteer numbers. Ken loved painting every Thursday, while his wife, June, cashiered every Friday.

Farmer Ed (who recently passed away) and his quiet, jovial nature was a regular treasure. Each week, Reg and his buddy made sure our tool aisle was neat, tidy and well-priced.

Stan worked magic with appliances, while Keith could fix anything and did so with quiet humour. Sandy tested power tools and other tasks in the back.

Lady Di ran the paint aisle like she owned it and latterly worked with Pam, keeping the book section organized.

Feisty Doreen, in her 80s, did bi-weekly shifts running lighting, while Mona took a shine to her and they became peas in a pod. Gail was a regular cashier and front-store worker, while Bart tested anything electronic and created systems and sets.

When we received hundreds of LPs, Stephen’s dad spent an eight-hour day sorting and pricing. Dave spent hours building dividers for our windows and doors.

Then there were Dennis the retired teacher, Richard, Bob the retired chaplain and Lino, the Italian fellow with a bad back from digging trenches in frozen ground as a fresh immigrant.

And there were so many others, all interesting individuals and all much appreciated.

Social good fit into our work, too. For years, Patrick and his son came in weekly to sort and organize. George loved riding in the truck and helping pick up donations; he eventually became a part-time employee.

We provided volunteer opportunities for a young man recovering from a severe stroke, a fellow dealing with a brain injury and many others. We responded to requests from various social agencies needing items for clients.

Small-project contractors came in regularly. We saw John, Jason, Khun Khun and Joseph every week or two. They taught us about products if we had questions.

A Cherry Creek rancher came in on every trip to Kamloops and said he found stuff he didn’t know he needed. Homeowners, cabin owners and landlords doing renovations came in every day.

Donations required once or twice-weekly pick-up trips to Home Depot, a national supporter which remains onboard today. Another major hardware store donated periodically. Various local manufacturers of cabinets, windows and doors also donated product.

All-Weather Windows, a national supporter, sent a 33-foot trailer full of new windows and doors, followed a year later by a 50-foot trailer. The Real Canadian Superstore donated many times.

The Delta Sun Peaks Hotel kept us well supplied with quality linens, TVs and furniture, as did a couple of hotels and motels in town. Homeowner support was strong and consistent.

Our truck was on the road at least twice a week, often three times. Occasionally, we had a five-day pick-up week. Our floor-to-ceiling pallet racking was never less than three-quarters full.

Staff were stable. Sylvia and Stephen (full-time) and Blair and Vicky (part-time) were terrific to work with and were always willing to have discussions about running the store. They kept our inventory moving, the volunteers happy and the customers coming back.

I’m puzzled how these years of broad-based support and consistent activity could change so much to the point that a city of 100,000 can no longer support this history, as has been claimed by Habitat for Humanity Kamloops’ board before it was disaffiliated by the national Habitat office.

In the meantime, on behalf of my staff and the board under which we worked (including contributions to this letter), I offer our gratitude for the many great years we experienced thanks to this amazing community.

Tom Rankin