Gerry Kelly

Here for the Mission

Meet Gerry:

Passion is a word used frequently to describe intense romantic love, but it also can mean dedication or devotion to a cause. In the case of the Restore Thrift Shop, the passionate dedication of the volunteers is very obvious. Restore is the shop associated with Habitat For Humanity and is located in the old Piggly Wiggly store on May River Road in Bluffton. It is a large open facility, full of fabulous stuff. It is clean, well run, and well organized. It is all of these things, but it is also much more.

The volunteers who keep this store running so smoothly have amazing heart for their cause. I don't know how many people I spoke to when I went to look at the store, but each one of them had something wonderful to say about what they were doing, and not a single one talked about sales, money, or anything negative. All were passionately dedicated to the cause they were serving and to their customers and donors. Big smiles all around!
The gal in charge of all of this on any given Saturday is Gerry Kelly. She is a longtime volunteer and also serves as a Habitat board member. She is the go-to person on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and also the volunteer coordinator. I asked her to be the spokesperson for the shop.

This is so rewarding. Giving back is the name of the game of life. 
- Barbara, Volunteer

PINK: Gerry, how was Restore founded?
Gerry: It was the dream of our Executive Director Pat Wirth. She really felt that this type of place could further the Habitat mission of eliminating sub-standard housing. She and the board of directors made a financial plan in 2002, and it worked, and has been working ever since!

I love to volunteer here. I love to be with people, help them, and hear their stories.
- Emily, Volunteer

PINK: What sort of items do you carry here? It looks different from any thrift shop I have ever been in.
Gerry: We are different. We carry building materials, appliances, and home decorating items. We have lots of "builder/building" stuff because that is what we are all about. We get a lot of donations like that because of who we are. We also may have things left over or not needed for a particular project, so they are here for prospective homeowners to purchase and use. We even have toilets-you don't see that in just any thrift shop. We welcome all sorts of donations and are grateful for them, of course.

PINK: I bet you have lots of stories from your customers.
Gerry: Yes, I do. One of our regular customers has adopted five children and they come in regularly for many different items. We always have cookies for the kids and make them feel like they have come in for a fun time. One of our customers came in one day and said she had been thrown out of her house and was living in her car. It was a freezing day and we couldn't go quick enough to get her some warm blankets and some help. She has made a comeback and now comes in on a regular basis not just to shop, but to see her Habitat "friends." We have lots of stories like that.

PINK: I was in the store for over an hour and everyone who came in was greeted with a hug and everyone who left was given a hearty "God Bless You."
I am so blessed to volunteer here. The goal involves so many people working together: Donors, buyers, volunteers, and just friends who stop by. 
- Joann, Volunteer

PINK: Gerry, tell us a bit about you personally.
Gerry: Well, I am just one of many, of course. I love being a volunteer for Habitat, and over the last 15 years, I have helped to raise money, organized volunteers, and helped with actual home building. My husband and I have also sponsored families, and made home visits to prospective buyers. I have made more than 125 home visits. It is the only way to get to know those who want to be homeowners. Yes, this is my passion!

As I said, passion comes in many forms, and many of us who give of ourselves and our time as volunteers share that passion. I think the world would be less of a place without people who care. At some level, we are all brothers and sisters, aren't we?