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Habitat prepares for new ReStore in Hempfield

| Thursday, July 9, 2015, 11:09 p.m.
Jennifer Novak, 9, of North Huntingdon, helps her mother, Karen, package bolts at Central Westmoreland's Habitat for Humanity warehouse in West Jeannette on Thursday, July 9, 2015.
Brian F. Henry | Trib Total Media
Jennifer Novak, 9, of North Huntingdon, helps her mother, Karen, package bolts at Central Westmoreland's Habitat for Humanity warehouse in West Jeannette on Thursday, July 9, 2015.

In a concrete block garage in Jeannette, Karen Novak and her 9-year-old daughter Jennifer packaged large anchor bolts in small bags for Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity.

The pair from North Huntingdon worked almost back-to-back Thursday in the 2,400-square-foot space, surrounded by equipment and materials to build houses in the same space as donated supplies for sale, since the chapter closed its ReStore in 2013.

That's when the group lost its lease on the Norwin Hills store, which serves as a major fundraiser, reselling donated building supplies. Members have been working out of the small warehouse since, said Paul Hochendoner of Hempfield, president of the chapter's board of directors.

“It was really only ever meant to be a warehouse that stored our tools and supplies to build homes,” he said. “It's crazy small, and it's jam-packed.”

He and Novak were preparing for a sale from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the building at 17 17th St. in Jeannette's West End, one of the last before the group signs a lease for a new ReStore in Hempfield.

“Timing's finally good that everything's coming back together,” said Novak, a board member.

Hochendoner said that even without a fixed space for the store, demand and donations have continued with frequent visitors.

“When these doors are open, people just stop by,” he said, standing amid the carpeting, boxed-up cabinets and new toilets for sale.

The group hopes to approve the lease next week and move in to the 12,000-square-foot space near Route 30 and Westmoreland Mall this month, before officially opening in August, Hochendoner said.

“We're going to get it started again, and I think it will be bigger and better than before,” he said, adding that they're searching for warehouse racking for the new store.

The Habitat for Humanity chapter has 3,700 volunteers on its email list, including two student chapters at St. Vincent College and the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.

Hochendoner said they're always in search of volunteers with construction skills, along with partners for ReStore building supply donations, such as a church that donated 30 oak chairs or 80 light fixtures from Westinghouse for sale Saturday.

Because the ReStore generates so much revenue, the organization will be able to use that to build more houses, said Novak, who has been a volunteer for 2 12 years.

“There's so much more help and work behind it” than building houses, she said. “There's so many other skills that are needed.”

The annual Valentine's Day gala and online sales through www.shop.com/cwhabitat, which gives a portion of proceeds to the chapter, have kept fundraising going, Hochendoner said.

Volunteers will restart an online GoFundMe campaign later this year, after a slow start to one undertaken in the fall, he said.

The group last dedicated a house in December 2013. Hochendoner, president since May, said he hopes once the ReStore reopens, members can build one or more houses each year.

“This is just a great way to give back to the community and get people into affordable housing,” he said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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