Restoration movement

Habitat for Humanity’s growing ReStore finds a new home

CAN BY CAN <br> Jennifer Arbuckle of Northern Recycling and Waste Services helps the ReStore’s Owen Bettis load paint cans onto a conveyer to be moved to the shop’s new location.

Jennifer Arbuckle of Northern Recycling and Waste Services helps the ReStore’s Owen Bettis load paint cans onto a conveyer to be moved to the shop’s new location.

Photo By meredith j. cooper

New digs
Habitat for Humanity of Butte County’s ReStore reopens at its new location, 220 Meyers St., at the end of this month. Grand opening Saturday, Aug. 1. New hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. The store is looking for volunteers. To help, call 895-1271.

The Kohler jetted bathtub sitting in the parking lot of Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore on Park Avenue is “worth thousands,” pointed out manager Owen Bettis, but it’s going for only $100. The like-new tub is dusty and needs a motor, but, like so much else sold at ReStore—such as the donated kitchen appliances, window blinds, light fixtures, tiles, shower doors, cans of paint, sinks and lumber—it’s a steal.

Money generated by tax-deductible donations of reusable building construction and demolition items (C&D) like this high-end tub have helped make it possible for Habitat for Humanity of Butte County to do the work that former President Jimmy Carter helped make famous back in the 1980s—providing livable, affordable homes for local families in need.

Habitat is currently working with Bidwell Presbyterian Church on the construction of a new home on Ceanothus Avenue, and is getting ready to break ground on an innovative “green” subdivision of seven houses in south Chico, close to Chapman Elementary School. The East 16th Infill Project, as it is called, is the first LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) subdivision in Butte County, according to Habitat Executive Director Darlene Giampaoli, and will feature solar electric systems—funded by PG&E—in each home.

During a recent visit to the ReStore’s current cramped, crowded 5,400-square-foot Park Avenue location, the designer tub was about to be moved to its new home, a spacious (13,000 square feet!) facility just around the corner at 220 Meyers St.—the big, blue metal building that used to house Athletic Horizons gymnastics club.

“I’m excited about moving,” offered the energetic, likable Bettis, who has managed the ReStore since May 2008. “ReStore has been operating at idle speed [at the Park Avenue location]. I want to start new programs, be proactive about reuse, about dealing with construction debris. I couldn’t do all that here—the building is too small, and too hot, or too cold … [The old building] has no heat, no air. It can be anywhere from 40 to 105 degrees at the register.”

ReStore’s new space, said Bettis, “will have two Big Ass Fans—that’s the name of the company—like they have at Nantucket and at In Motion [Fitness].”

The yard alone at the new facility is as big as the entire old ReStore building, which will give Bettis the space he longs for to accommodate the volume of donations he believes Chico has to offer.

Every so often, a big-box store like Home Depot might donate, say, a new stove cosmetically damaged in shipment, but to date the ReStore has mostly relied on DIY-ers and contractors dropping off items left over from projects, he said.

“I couldn’t go out and solicit donations before because of space problems,” continued Bettis. “Now I’ll be able to handle the level of donations that are actually out there to be had.”

Joining Bettis for the move on this particular day was Jennifer Arbuckle, recycling and public outreach coordinator for Northern Recycling and Waste Services (NRWS) in Paradise. The company is providing manpower and 40-yard metal roll-off boxes to help ReStore with its estimated week-and-a-half-long move, which began July 14.

Arbuckle and Bettis are both keen to raise public awareness about the importance of keeping reusable C&D materials, such as lumber, shingles, tile, drywall and wiring, “out of the waste stream,” as Arbuckle put it, “and to Habitat’s ReStore.”

Arbuckle, in fact, saves reusable toilets and such that she receives at NRWS for Bettis to pick up for his ReStore. In turn, Bettis gives unsellable ReStore donations—like the gunked-up, leaky, 1970s-era, green trash compactor he picked up from a donor who had told Bettis it was a brand-new dishwasher—to NRWS to recycle.

One of the first programs Bettis is looking forward to starting after the move is paint “reblending.”

“We get a lot of random stuff that’s hard to sell, because there’s maybe only one can of a certain color,” said Bettis.

The roomy new site will make it possible for Bettis to mix paints together in 50-gallon batches using a large mixer that is being purchased for the new store. Resulting colors such as “ReStore Green Blend” or “ReStore Yellow Blend” will be sold for the incredibly cheap price of $20 per 5-gallon bucket, suitable for use in painting school or apartment building walls, and for graffiti abatement, said Bettis.

A “deconstruction” program, planned for a summer 2010 launch, will see Bettis and a ReStore crew going out to building demolition sites and working to help dismantle structures so that reusable materials are salvaged for the nonprofit instead of ending up refuse.

“The whole purpose of having a ReStore is to financially support Habitat [for Humanity] to build affordable housing for low-income people,” said Bettis, “and to keep all this stuff out of the landfill. … It’s ridiculous when you go to the landfill and you see whole sheets of plywood and 2-by-4s.”

“If we can keep it out of the landfill—great,” Arbuckle summed up. “That’s our goal.”