Davis always reports to work with an Ernie doll named Iggy. He uses a wheelchair and doesn’t speak much. Davis is a special needs student at Thomas Jefferson High School — and a volunteer at the Richmond Habitat for Humanity ReStore. He enjoys the four mile bus ride from school to the store twice a month so he can help out.
In 2015, Rudy Hall, a TJHS Special Education teacher, approached ReStore’s volunteer coordinator Jenn Wilson about a potential partnership. Since then, the students have helped clean and organize many of the departments with the help of a one-on-one aide.
One of the students flagship projects was an overhaul of the so-called “knick knack room” — a daunting and chaotic closet full of all the things that are hard to organize. Their effort made it possible to store the fruits of a large donation.
“Volunteering at the ReStore provides our class with vocational experience,” says Rudy. “And being out in the community increases their self esteem. The kids look forward to coming.”
Jennifer agrees. “Everyone is employable. The skills that they’re learning here will help them after they graduate. And the best part is that they feel a sense of accomplishment and have a sense of pride in their work.”
The kids work hard. They complete any task they’re asked to do, whether it’s sweeping, cleaning, or organizing. Sometimes the aides make a song about the assigned task for the day and everyone sings together.
“I like doing this because we laugh,” says Kendrick, a student. “And act goofy!” adds his friend Wright with a big smile.
How to Redo an 80s Brass Chandelier
with Rose Szabo
When Ira, the new marketing coordinator for my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore asked me if I wanted to write a DIY tutorial, I was deeply flattered but not sure what I’d write about. “Maybe just let me come by the store and see what you have,” I said. And when I got there, I discovered that what they had were lots and lots of chandeliers.
The ReStore is about to receive a large donation of new pendant lighting, and they were looking to unload some of their older, more traditional brass chandeliers. You know the kind–five to eight arms, a bulbous ball on the bottom, faux candles, that whole thing. If you want one, now’s the time to get one at the ReStore–the prices are reasonable, and Ira and I figured out a great way to kick one up a notch–remaindered spray paint, also available at the ReStore (although we had to hunt around a bit to find a nozzle for the spray paint). Here’s what we did:
Step 1: take off all the fixtures that you don’t want to paint.
Step 2: tape over anything you can’t take off, especially the inner workings/wiring.
Step 3: Go nuts with your spray paint! You’ll want to spray in thin, even coats. We had a combination paint/primer, but if your paint doesn’t come with primer, be sure to prime first.
Step 4: Wait in between coats for your hardware to dry. If you want, it can be really cool to use two colors–just be sure to tape off when switching colors!
While we were painting, a ReStore employee came looking for the spraying sound he heard, concerned that he was about to catch two graffiti vandals. He said he was relieved we were “spraypainting with purpose.”
Step 5: Put your hardware back on the chandelier. You can add an optional coat of clear gloss at this point, just to make everything extra shiny and durable.
Voila! You have a custom chandelier! And you can find everything you need at the ReStore.
Can of spray paint: $5 each (total $10)
Clear gloss: $5
On Thursday, August 25th, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Kasey Kahne volunteered his time to help build a home for Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity. Kasey joined other local volunteers, the CEO of Richmond Habitat, Jane Helfrich, and the future homeowner, Chaquitta Barbee.
Here are a few photos from the event: