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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore Thrift store and 10th Annual Birdhouse Auction

Mar 27, 2015 10:48AM ● By Brandi Barnett

Building Community

April 2015
By Jen May Pastores
Bird house photos by Frank Miramontes
All other photos by Josiah Alter

A door can symbolize opportunities and is often used to represent major transitions in life. “When one door closes, another opens,” goes the familiar saying. For homeowners, do-it-yourself builders and crafty creatives, a door can also offer versatility for endless projects: A single door can be repurposed as a chic office desk, as garden decor or as a rustic bed headboard. At Habitat for Humanity of Tulare County, restored doors represent new beginnings for the community through the building and repair of homes for families in need.
“Habitat is known for building from the ground up,” says Deanna Saldana, Resource Development Director for Habitat for Humanity. Her eyes are lit with excitement as she points out donated building materials inside ReStore, Habitat’s thrift store that sells supplies at a fraction of the retail price. Ceramic tile, lumber, light fixtures, paint, PVC pipes, cabinetry and roofing materials – to list just a few – are the kinds of items you can find at this large warehouse in Visalia.
Habitat actively cultivates an environmental effort to divert waste from the landfill and salvages reusable materials through regular donations from retailers, builders and community members. With the popularity of Pinterest, an online visual bookmarking tool that helps people discover and save creative ideas, there is a growing community of people interested in building, making and transforming things into an alternative use. In Habitat’s operations with ReStore, it is embracing the process of upcycling and repurposing for home improvement, naturally attracting all types of customers who are seeking deals that are good for their wallet and for the environment.
Proceeds from ReStore sales go back into Habitat’s programs, including its focus on home repair known as “A Brush With Kindness.” In challenging circumstances where homeowners are living in a substandard home that they are incapable of repairing, they are eligible to partner with Habitat to take the necessary steps to improve their environment. Homeowners invest time and physical work alongside Habitat volunteers to restore an acceptable, safe living condition. “We not only build houses, we build community,” says Saldana.
The partnership also allows homeowners to repay material for their repairs through a zero ­interest loan from Habitat. Some of the principles that the organization builds itself on is affordable housing and positive stewardship to support the community in breaking out of the cycle of poverty. Habitat recognizes that less than 30 percent of Tulare County’s population live below the poverty level, which propels it to keep its doors open to help low-­income families and others who are struggling to upkeep a decent home. Overall, it has completed 37 new home construction projects and 22 rescued home projects for low­-income families in Tulare County. With the home repair program alone, it has helped more than 250 households. “Our goal is to serve more people,” says Saldana.
Each year, local artists are invited to create custom birdhouses for Habitat’s fundraising events such as the upcoming 10th Annual Birdhouse Auction on May 1. Birdhouses are thoughtfully designed as art pieces and are displayed for guests to place their bids. Local artist Dave Griswold has donated a birdhouse every year for the past nine years to the auction, and in the spirit of upcycling materials, he uses old barn wood he has collected throughout Tulare County when crafting his work.
With a vision that imagines every man, woman and child having a decent and affordable place to live, Habitat’s foundation of helping others is making a difference in the community. Saldana says: “We’d like to be a part of the community and the community to be a part of us.”

Habitat for Humanity of Tulare County  • (559) 734-­4040
637 S. Lovers Lane, Visalia •
Visalia ReStore: Monday - Friday 9 am-5 pm, Saturday 9 am -4 pm
(559) 734-4046
Find them on Facebook and Pinterest