Heidi White: Doing spring big for The ReStore

When warmer weather coaxes tulips and daffodils to emerge, sprucing up the homestead and spring cleaning take the top slots on many to-do lists. Homeowners and businesses taking stock of inventory to make room for newer models and new remodeling, quest for the latest trends at local idea fairs and home and garden shows.

When they do, they are sure to meet Heidi White. As ReStore business relations manager, Heidi is front and center at events like the Portland Womens Expo, the Clark CountyHome and Garden Idea Fair, Dozer Day, farmers markets, upcycling fairs, as well as neighborhood cleanups in Beaverton, Gresham, Lake Oswego and Vancouver. She’s letting people know The ReStore takes all sorts of donated building materials, furniture, appliances and home goods as part of our mission to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.

Meet Heidi White

Heidi did her growing up in Anchorage, Alaska and attended college at the University of Oregon in Eugene where she studied Anthropology with a focus in nutrition. From there, she managed non-profit sports camps for kids. Heidi said she loved working with the kids, but she kept seeing the same ones cycling through the system.

“I felt I was just putting a Band-Aid on the problem, and I wanted to be a bigger part of the solution,” she said. Thus Habitat for Humanity and The ReStore.

Now instead of refereeing basketball scrimmages for a hundred wound-up kids, she’s coordinating one-on-ones with business and civic leaders to acquaint and reacquaint them with The ReStore.

She says her experience with kids translates well in the business world.

“Kids are tricky,” Heidi explained. “So you need to find out what they need so that they can relate to you. Now I meet people, try to talk to them and find out what their needs are, and if that matches well with The ReStore’s needs.”

You may not want it, but we do!

Heidi says her job is made easier by the fact that most people already know the Habitat brand.

“As soon as I say Habitat for Humanity, they are willing to listen a few seconds more,” Heidi continued.  “I think most people think I’m going to ask them for money, but what’s great is, I’m not! I’m saying, ‘I want the stuff that you don’t want.’ And once they realize that, and we start having that conversation, then it’s fun because people just start brainstorming on what they could possibly give us.”

When Capital One recently decided to close down three call centers, they called in The ReStore and several other non-profits to salvage furniture and other materials from the sites.

Heidi said she thought initially it would come to about half a truck load of items for our stores. But working with the facilities managers who were highly motivated to divert from the landfill, she was able to pick up several appliances and lots of shelving.

“It ended up being three or four truckloads of great stuff!” Heidi exclaimed.

She loved working cooperatively with the other non-profits to sort through and determine which group would benefit most from each donated item.

That same kind of cooperative spirit is present at neighborhood cleanups where reusable items no longer wanted or needed by residents are handed off to non-profits like The ReStore and Community Warehouse.

What is The ReStore?

Many donors are still confused about The ReStore’s mission. Heidi says it’s the question most commonly asked when she’s out in the community.

“When people donate their furniture they are thinking it’s going directly to the [Habitat] homeowners, which isn’t the case. We’re here to raise money to build more houses so these people can become homeowners,” she said.

Those sofas and chairs, those sinks and refrigerators, those doors and wood beams, those light fixtures and power tools – they all become ReStore stock. Selling them at The ReStore has raised $3.5 million for Habitat home-building efforts since opening our doors in 2001.

When the lightbulb turns on, often the doors swing open.

“Hey, you can do great things and support Habitat, but you don’t have to open your pocketbook, just open your garage, or your warehouse, and get rid of the things you don’t want.”

When the spring cleaning is done, The ReStore outreach team will continue that messaging.

“Once you start digging every neighborhood has its own festival,” Heidi said. “There’s the great Mississippi Street Fair and the Kenton Street Fair. And every community has its own pulse and style. Portland seems like a big place, but it’s really small communities, and we want to try and be a part of those communities. ”

See The ReStore fair booth? Stop in and say hi to Heidi White!



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