United Way, Steve Thomas Help Launch Habitat for Humanity ReStore Truck in Nashua

Remodeling a home in Greater Nashua and don’t know what to do with those cabinets or appliances you’re replacing? If they’re reusable, Greater Nashua Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore will gladly accept them as donations and even will pick them up in their new service truck.

As part of its commitment to safe housing that area residents can afford, United Way of Greater Nashua is proud to partner with Greater Nashua Habitat for Humanity as a sponsor of its new ReStore truck, which was unveiled at a ceremony on May 28, 2015, that featured renowned Habitat for Humanity spokesman and Emmy Award winning television series host/home renovator Steve Thomas.

The event was held at Greater Nashua Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and included remarks from Thomas,  local Habitat officials, and United Way President Paul Hebert. “Coming together for this truck launch today is a good example of why we are so much stronger when we pool our resources for a common goal that will benefit our entire community,” Hebert noted.

A few days before the event, Thomas took some time off from his current home renovation project in Maine to answer some questions about his involvement with Habitat for Humanity and ReStore, plus provide his thoughts about affordable housing and volunteerism:

Q.  How and when did you come to be involved with Habitat for Humanity?

A.  My introduction to Habitat For Humanity goes back to the early ‘90s when we (PBS series This Old House) did stories on the Charlotte Habitat affiliate and then a two-show special on the Carter Work Project in Winnipeg, Canada. That put Habitat on my radar screen as a worldwide housing non-profit that would actually move the needle on the dial of the global housing crisis.
I followed Habitat throughout my 14 years on This Old House, and then in 2003, did a five-part series on Habitat for the DIY channel. On my show, Renovation Nation (on Discovery’s Planet Green), we partnered with Habitat and Saturn Cars to build projects in Detroit and Philadelphia.  I was able to check back in with Habitat and see how much the organization had progressed as a builder with a sophisticated construction methodology. They were able to incorporate both trained building professionals and unskilled volunteers to create a home that was well built, well appointed, and energy efficient — and therefore economically sustainable for a new first-time homeowner.

Rolf Goodwin and Paul Hebert of United Way of Greater Nashua with Steve Thomas at Habitat for Humanity ReStore

United Way of Greater Nashua Board Member Rolf Goodwin and President Paul Hebert chat with Habitat for Humanity spokesman Steve Thomas at the ReStore truck launch in Nashua.

Q.  Why is affordable housing important to you?

A.  My understanding of the affordable housing issue comes from my own childhood.  My father came out of WWII with very little money, got a job, started a family, and still was able to buy a house back then for $15,000-20,000.  I bought my first house for $14,000 when I got out of college, then renovated and eventually sold it.  But those days are gone, that tranche of housing stock known as workforce housing does not exist and therefore a whole stratum of families who want to be homeowners are frozen out of the market.  That is precisely the stratum that Habitat For Humanity addresses.  It is important because home ownership is, in my estimation, one of the underpinnings of a stable and vibrant society.

Q.  You’ve renovated your own homes for more than 35 years. Taking something old and making it new…is that what appeals to you most about Habitat’s ReStore, or are there other factors?

A.  Habitat ReStores are non-profit home improvement stores and donations centers that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, and construction materials to the public at a fraction of the retail cost.  All proceeds from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore go to build homes in our local communities and through the local affiliates, around the world.
Habitat ReStores are a great place to find great stuff — everything from a refrigerator to funky vintage furniture.  And they’re also a great place to which to donate the stuff you don’t need anymore. Like that storage locker filled with furniture you haven’t seen in three years — donate it to the ReStore. Downsizing into a smaller house? Give the extra to the Habitat ReStore. Renovating your kitchen?  We’ll take all the appliances, the cabinets and even the kitchen sink.  Refurbishing your place of business? We’ll take that stuff too.  To sell merchandise, Habitat ReStores need to acquire merchandise, and that means we need donations.

Q.  You recently were quoted as saying, “Meaning in life and happiness in life come from being of service.” When did this first occur to you, and what brought you to that realization?

A.  I suppose it evolved over time.  Over the course of my television career, I have worked with all manner of people all over the world, from the rich and powerful to the poor and humble. Those who were grounded and happy in their lives were the ones who understood that their life was about giving back — being of service.  But it was really the example of two men, from very different backgrounds, that brought it into focus.  One is a retired vice chairman of a major insurance company and he still works full time, pro bono, for a handful of non-profits he deems important.  Another is a guest worker from Mexico, a laborer in the southwest who works for a laborer’s wage. But he spends all his spare time and money helping the kids in his Hispanic neighborhood get an education and get ahead.  Both men embody that wonderful quote from Albert Pike: “What we do for ourselves dies with us.  What we do for the world and others remains, and is immortal.”

Greater Nashua Habitat for Humanity truck launch with United Way and Steve Thomas

United Way of Greater Nashua staff and board members join Habitat for Humanity’s Steve Thomas (center) and Bill Stoughton (2nd from right) in celebrating the new ReStore truck, which will pick up donated furniture, appliances, and building supplies.

Q.  What is the one message you would like our readers to take from this interview?

A.  Donating to Habitat for Humanity ReStore is attractive in a couple of ways:  You get a tax write off — that’s helpful; you know your unwanted items will find a good home and not end up in a landfill — that’s very cool.  And, maybe best of all, Habitat ReStore will come and pick your stuff up, so you don’t have to organize getting it carried away. And that’s why this new truck is so important. We see delivery trucks on the roads everyday — thousands of them — so we don’t think twice about them. But this one, by being able to deliver donated furniture, appliances and building supplies to the Nashua Habitat for Humanity ReStore, will help build Homes, Community and Hope.

For information about how to donate supplies to the ReStore, including a list of acceptable items, visit their Donation Page

Another Way to Help Local Families Who Need Housing

You can support United Way of Greater Nashua’s efforts to help families living in transitional housing, which is part of their journey to permanent, affordable housing. Help us raise $500 and the McLane law firm has pledged to match that amount. That $1,000 will provide clean, stable, and safe housing for two families for six months. (In the form below, under “Impact Area,” select “Transitional Housing.”) Thank you!

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2 thoughts on “United Way, Steve Thomas Help Launch Habitat for Humanity ReStore Truck in Nashua

  1. Ronna Worth says:

    Excellent in-depth post, thank you for sharing so much information about Steve Thomas and some great quotes. I am glad that United Way of Greater Nashua supports Habitat and the ReStore. It makes me proud to be a part of it!

  2. Lisa Conti says:

    Great example of collaboration on the community level. Thanks to all who made it happen, and to Steve Thomas for being so generous with his time.

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