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Habitat for Humanity's ReStore makes major moves

| Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Jessica Levine, manager of the Habitat for Humanity Restore in New Kensington

Habitat for Humanity Allegheny Valley's ReStore is getting a new manager and changing locations.

Jessica Levine is to take over as manager on Monday. The ReStore will move in March to the building that formerly housed Khakis & Collectibles, at Freeport Street and Stevenson Boulevard, in the Parnassus section of New Kensington.

The ReStore and Habitat offices have been located on Industrial Boulevard in the city. The ReStore opened in March 2008.

Habitat Executive Director Dan Casella said the new location will make Habitat and the store more visible.

“Our biggest obstacle is that people don't know that Habitat is even in the area,” he said. “Just hearing the traffic go by is a change for us.”

He added that they want the new location of be “a one-stop drop-off.”

Officials are hoping to work with the Salvation Army to become a clothes drop-off and add a Paper Retriever recycling bin.

“I think that's good for the community to make the donation aspect easier,” Casella said.

An opening date hasn't been set, but Casella anticipates that it will be sometime in March.

During the next several months, Habitat will be looking to volunteers to help ready the building and move ReStore items, he said.

Levine, 33, of Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood, said she already has a vision for the ReStore, which sells home improvement items and furniture.

Proceeds benefit Habitat's mission of providing homes to those in need.

Her vision is based on a quote about volunteers: “Don't ever question the value of volunteers. Noah's Ark was built by volunteers; the Titanic was built by professionals.

“Noah's Ark will be in the new location, literally and figuratively,” Levine said. “It will be a handcrafted original.”

Katherine Counihan, president of Habitat's board of directors said they're excited about the energy that Levine brings to the job.

“She's young, personable,” Counihan said. “You can tell she's driven, and she is very excited about doing this.”

Levine has worked in the business world since graduating from Rutgers University in 2004 with a journalism degree. She moved to Pittsburgh about 10 years ago.

The career change to the world of nonprofits made sense given that her life philosophy has evolved as she advanced in martial arts training, Levine said.

“Who I am is all about honesty and meeting people and learning about them and saying, ‘How can we make our lives better?' ” Levine said. “It made me realize that I should be living my philosophy all of the time. (Habitat's) philosophy is my philosophy.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702.

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