Joseph Washington signed his partnership agreement in the week before the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and almost immediately went to work on his sweat equity hours. He was eager to complete his first 50 hours quickly so that he could pick the lot for his new home. Working at an auto parts store in New Orleans East, he wanted a lot near the bus line, and he had scouted one of NOAHH’s unused lots on America Street. Like all partner families, his first 50 hours were with the ReStore.
As it happened, the tenth anniversary was also the last day of the Orgill Fall Dealer Market, a four day convention where the vendors and other associates of the major independent hardware dealer came together to exhibit their wares. The massive convention took up almost all of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, from Hall A to Hall J, roughly ten city blocks of every sort of product imaginable. And in an act of extreme generosity, the conventioneers had agreed to partner with the ReStore and donate a significant amount of the exhibited materials.
The people at Orgill and their exhibitors had the option to donate their materials, and an overwhelming number of them did so. By donating, exhibitors not only give back to their host city (in this case, of course, New Orleans), but also benefit from not having to pack and ship their materials, not having to pay material handling fees or shipping costs, and not having to send brand new items to the landfill. Furthermore, it’s a tax deductible donation.
Before the week was up, Joseph Washington completed his first 50 hours.
Starting at 4 p.m. on August 29th, ReStore staff, volunteers, and partner families arrived at the convention center and began packaging, processing, palletizing, and staging donated items which eventually filled 13 tractor trailers. Working late into the night over the course of three days, they packed everything up, and then, for another three days, the ReStore sat closed as the trucks rolled in, delivering garden supplies, cleaning materials, tools, outdoor furniture, and more.
In the weeks leading up to the donation, the ReStore had begun clearing space. By the week of the donation, everything in the store was 50% off. The same crew of staff, volunteers, and partner families then processed, priced (at 30 to 50% off retail prices), and positioned the products throughout the store, after taking advantage of the temporarily cleared space to do a little mopping.
By Saturday morning, the shelves were neatly stocked with everything from the usual door hardware to the automotive supplies, seeds and mulch, and other products that rarely make it to the ReStore floor. Gazebos were staged where couches used to be, and air compressors took up space in the lighting aisle. The transformation was remarkable, and as the doors opened on the Saturday before Labor Day, customers were already waiting. At the end of the day, only a small portion of the donation had sold, but the store still had their second biggest sales day ever.
That week, Joseph Washington picked the lot he wanted. After a few more hours at the ReStore, he will move on to working on homes. His own will soon go on the build schedule, and he will spend his last 100 hours of sweat equity helping to build it himself. After much hard work, he will one day move into his home on America Street, and through NOAHH’s homeownership program, his payments on the no-interest mortgage, property taxes, insurance payments, and termite contract will be affordable, no more than 30% of his income. The money raised from the sales of the materials donated by Orgill and its exhibitors is a major part of what makes that possible, helping NOAHH to cover the costs of building and repairing homes throughout the New Orleans area.
For that, NOAHH extends its sincere gratitude to everyone at Orgill and their exhibitors who so generously donated to the ReStore, to all of the volunteers and partner families who took time to help us with the donation, and, of course, to everyone who came by to the store!