Habitat volunteers enjoy their work

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Pam Martinsen and Ed Langluttig start filling the truck on another Restore day.

EASTON — Pam Martinsen climbs up easily onto the big ReStore truck with her partner for the day, Ed Langluttig. The team is setting out to pick up donations for Habitat’s ReStore on the day’s schedule. Pam has an unerring sense of direction; hours and miles of recreational bike riding have taught her the geography of Talbot County. It has also kept her fit and strong and able to handle a share of the load, though she recognizes that Ed is the heavy lifter, supplying more muscle. Yes, women are welcome to volunteer to be part of a team on truck duty. Pam says, “Every trip is an exploration of country roads, every trip means meeting new people who are generously donating to Habitat,” and she concludes, “every trip is fun.”

First stop is Trish Roberts of Talbot County. She cheerfully explains that she is a generational donor. “My Dad in Missouri donated to Habitat when it first started so its a family tradition.” Trish is redoing her kitchen and the present counter doesn’t fit here, but it will do fine service elsewhere. Case in point: my own home office consists of a bedroom corner with kitchen cabinets someone no longer wanted. Assembled by local carpenter Greg Leverage and painted by Wayne Towers, who is a volunteer painter for Habitat, the office nook is personalized to me. That’s what donations can do.

Second stop of the morning is Anne Turner. She’s donating cabinets, lots of tools, and a big table saw, all headed to the ReStore where someone else will acquire them at bargain prices and continue their usefulness. Ed, Pam, and “Dolly” handle the heavy items with ease. Habitat is looking for volunteers who can make a like commitment and staff the trucks.

Of course, not everyone can haul and hoist, but there are many different degrees of ability needed at the store. How do you price a table saw? How do you price a well-made cabinet? Nancy Andrew, the executive director of Habitat Choptank, says the ReStore in its new location is growing and more volunteers are needed.

While there is some paid staff, the store could not operate without volunteers. Pricing, organizing and customer service are key functions. Cashiers are trained by Habitat.

At their recent holiday luncheon, laughter and delicious food were on the menu. I spoke to several men and women who enjoy the time they spend at the store. They choose shifts, can work one day or four, in a friendly atmosphere where everyone has the same mission … raise money so more houses can be built for hardworking people who could not otherwise know homeownership. Last year, Habitat built four houses in Talbot and Dorchester and this year five are on line.

Chuck Whitehead, a retired gentleman, justifiably brags that in three and a half years of volunteering, he’s never missed a scheduled shift. He says “It’s more fun than a real job. I love when odd things turn up and when buyers with imaginative skills do something unusual. This job is giving back, it’s an opportunity to be part of something important.” Chuck Whitehead is 86 years old.

Christina Walls is the general manager of the warehouse-like store and she needs more volunteers. She explains, “Winter means some of our regulars go away and we need volunteers to fill the shifts.”

There’s no pay, but the rewards are flexibility, camaraderie, and satisfaction. As Chuck Whitehead says,”You are part of something important.”

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