Graham Conaboy: Finding something special

One of the newest faces at the ReStore belongs to Graham Conaboy. Graham grew up in a small town outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania, then earned a degree in athletic training/sports medicine from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. From there, Graham crossed the country to pursue a career at a university in San Francisco. But, Portland was calling their name.

"I like the outdoorsy feel of the city," Graham said. "I don't feel as claustrophobic as I do in most cities. Everybody's active: hiking, biking, walking, running. All of that. I feel comfortable in it because I think everything's not as condensed as it is in San Francisco."

When it came to looking for work here in Portland, Habitat for Humanity was a natural fit for Graham. Their history with Habitat goes back to when Graham often volunteered at build sites as a student in high school.

Graham started out volunteering at the Portland ReStore, but in short order accepted a store associate position at the Gresham ReStore.

"I guess it's not surprising, but it's so fast-moving and so quick-paced!" Graham explained. "Everything flows really well, but it's completely organized chaos. Because it feels like there's nothing under control, but really everything is under control...As long as you're working hard, things will get done when they get done, and I think I like that a lot. Just do something every minute you are working and it's going to be OK."

Working at the register, organizing inventory or processing daily donations, Graham marvels at how often donors bring in antiques and high-end furniture.

"I really like to see the furniture, I think that's my favorite. And  then I do like the little trinkets, housewares," they added. "We get a lot of really special items that you can tell meant a lot to someone at some point."

Graham describes a tiny tea set: kettle, two cups, sugar bowl--all of which fit in the palm of their hand.

"It was painted as if it was fine china. You could tell someone took great care, obviously it didn't break throughout their possession, and then took great care to box it up and bring it to us," Graham said.

A child soon spotted the tiny tea set on display in the ReStore's glass case, her delight apparent when she was allowed to make the purchase and take it home.

"You never know what's going to be special to someone," Graham pointed out.


DONATE: Bring your stuff by and we'll take a look, because we might accept something that you didn't think we would, and we might have a suggestion for a place that will take something that we won't. We're a non-profit organization trying to raise money and that's our main goal, so if we don't take the items you bring to us, it's not anything personal, it's just what can we recycle, what can we sell, what can we reuse.

VOLUNTEER: I think the people, from pre-existing volunteers all the way up to upper level management are just the most welcoming and the most caring...and such great personalities and such different personalities that you're going to meet people here, and you're going to be able to work with everybody because everyone's so open-minded. People come from all walks of life though these doors and it's hard to feel out of place because there are so many different people.

WORKING FOR RESTORE: Compared it to other jobs I've worked, it's more globally impactful. I'm going to work every day, but am I building toward something bigger? Because in my old job I used to go every day - and it was a good job - but I thought to myself, what am I actually working towards? And is this something that I look back in 20 it something that I actually did good for the community? The people you work with have such a big impact on what your day looks like, and I think when the goal of the organization is to give back to the community, that's going to reflect back on the employees because that's also what they want.

When Graham Conaboy is not at work at the Gresham ReStore, you might find them exploring a nearby trail, reading, running or rooting for the Portland Thorns.


JOBS: Come work for the ReStore

VOLUNTEER: We've got a place for you!

DONATE: Schedule a pickup