The rain and cold this past Tuesday failed to stop the warm, festive, spirit at the South Division ReStore. Customers, employees, and anyone involved with the refurbishment process gathered for a re-dedication celebration. The ReStore in Wyoming had been closed since July of 2014, when a tornado came through and significantly damaged the building, causing the store to relocate to a temporary location. “It’s been a long ten months,” said Tom Poll, director of Habitat Kent’s three ReStore locations. “I know I’m going to be emotional during my short speech.”
And what a journey the past ten months have been. “Obviously no one predicted this tornado would hit- making these past ten months stressful, hard, and tiresome for our team,” said Gary, a ReStore employee. But what made the celebration so beautiful wasn’t the pizza, spinning discount wheel, selection of items to purchase, or even the amazing building.
The most beautiful part was the selflessness, love, and spirits of everyone who rallied to rebuild the ReStore into something better than anyone could have imagined. Friends and supporters of Habitat Kent immediately volunteered to help in any way possible. Whether it was businesses lending their trucks after the tornado hit or retail professionals volunteering tirelessly to make the store look as spaced out and clean as possible.
“While the tornado was devastating for everyone involved at the time, I couldn’t help but be hopeful for the location’s future,” said Mary Buikema, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Kent County. Hope is contagious. And it was contagious throughout the whole rededication.
“This ReStore looks so much more clean, organized, and bright than the location even before the tornado” explained Arvin, a loyal customer for five years.
I could not wipe a smile off of my face. Because the whole time I was able to witness how God can use hopeless situations, such as tornados, to give us something bigger and better than we can even imagine. Dan, an employee who has greeted customers at the door for eight years at the Division location was quick to speak at the ceremony, “I’ve worked here for eight years, and while the past ten months has been extremely difficult, it’s the best thing that has ever happened to this ReStore location.”
And I am not lying when I say that the new ReStore is better than it ever has been. Dave, a ReStore employee, smiled and told me, “Today, in our first day of business, some customers have complained saying, ‘this is too nice.’ If that’s the worst complaint we get from a customer, we’ll take it.”
All three ReStore locations celebrated on the day, giving away free prizes, treats, and of course great deals. But the Division location was the epicenter of the celebration, hosting a re-dedication ceremony with words from Hyde and Buikema.
“It’s just like a Habitat home dedication,” said Dave. “And I think the reason our staff is so emotional is due to the fact that we after a long ten months, we are finally returning home.”
In my short time here at Habitat, I've been inspired by the numerous amount of stories of hardworking volunteers, families, and staff. My prayer is that in my position as Community Outreach and Marketing Assistant, I can do these stories justice.