The trials in Kelly Anderson’s life have only served to make her stronger.
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Kelly is a volunteer at the Gresham ReStore. From the second day we started setting up the store last November, Kelly has been there every week. She helped build out the large orange metal pallet racks, as well as other shelving and containment systems housing lumber, doors and windows. Working for Habitat has been a lifelong dream.
For 18 years Kelly worked as an equipment operator for the State of California. She was a single mom with four kids, and employed to operate backhoes, loaders… “everything but an airplane or a motorcycle,” she says.
She loved her job, especially towing trucks, motor homes and other stranded vehicles off San Francisco’s Oakland Bay Bridge.
Until one day.
She was sitting in the back of a truck, placing Botts’ dots (round raised pavement markers) along the highway when the vehicle exhaust exploded close to Kelly’s ears. She hasn’t heard a word since.
Kelly lost her hearing, her job and, subsequently, her 100-year-old farmhouse. She was too ill, defeated and depressed to fight the termination.
“But life ooches on,” Kelly stressed.
Eventually Kelly made a new home in a forest in Southern Oregon where she loved being surrounded by glorious nature.
“I liked the mentality of ‘don’t tread on me,’” she says.
Traveling is also something Kelly loves.
-Where have you been?
-Where do you want to go?
On her last trip out of the country she spent three months exploring several Neolithic sites in England, Ireland and Scotland, touring in a motor home. Her sole companion was the 17-year-old long-haired chocolate Chihuahua she inherited.
“He just ooched along. He wouldn’t take pictures, he wouldn’t drive, he wouldn’t read the map,” she laughs. “We were basically lost for three months. It was awesome!”
Her stops included the Neolithic village Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones in Scotland; Newgrange in Ireland, and Hever Castle in Kent.
“It was Anne Boleyn’s home. You know she kind of changed history, and I’ve been fascinated by her since I was 7,” she exclaimed. “I was hyperventilating, I was so excited to be there!”
With a daughter attending a Seattle university and family in Portland, she relocated here in September 2016.
Kelly says she gets vicarious enjoyment when artists shop the ReStore. And she is blown away by ReStore donors.
“There are amazing things that are donated,” she explains. “I mean people are generous, companies are sometimes extremely generous – and then knowing that we don’t have any high-priced CEOs that are making a ton of money. Everybody’s getting paid something, but nobody’s getting rich working for Habitat. I love it!”
Everyone who knows Kelly knows volunteering with Habitat is something she’s always wanted to do. After a day of volunteering, Kelly’s family, especially her mom, calls to hear about her day at The ReStore, what the latest thing is.
Whether it’s for a project at The ReStore or a more personal ambition, Kelly continues to look ahead. She just started taking yoga and she’s also studying copywriting. Her next voyage may be aboard a cargo ship to Norway, or to care for elephants in Thailand. Copywriting or travel blogging could be a way to earn a bit of money along the way. When she goes, it will be for as long as her VISA will last.
-“They’ll be like, ‘Yeah, we haven’t seen her in years, but she sends good presents!”
As Kelly Anderson says, life has a way of “ooching along.”
HOW TO Become a ReStore volunteer
JOBS: Never a dull day at The ReStore