FAMU Students Giving Back at the ReStore

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Among the students from Florida A&M University (FAMU) who volunteered at the ReStore, one student had a special connection to Habitat. Tiesha Brown, currently a student in healthcare management, grew up in a Habitat home built by Indian River Habitat for Humanity. Her mother Tanisha was part of the Habitat program there when Tiesha was an elementary school student.

The students from FAMU joined NOAHH in the ReStore, sorting through materials in the warehouse and getting them ready for the sales floor. Every NOAHH partner family spends their first hundred hours of sweat equity volunteering in the ReStore, which sells donated goods at discounted prices to raise funds for NOAHH’s mission.

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By keeping prices lower than retail, the NOAHH ReStore provides access to furniture and building supplies to those who might not otherwise be able to afford them. Because they spend so much time working in the ReStore, many partner families become familiar with what the store has to offer–and take advantage of it. Tiesha recalled that her mother did just that:

“As I see all this stuff here in the warehouse that people have brought to this place, I think of how my mom, when we moved in, went to he ReStore and bought our couch. Then we were able to move in,” Tiesha said. “I’m very excited to be here because I’m able to help someone else. I’m here sorting out things to help you all for when you go help someone else, so I played a part. It’s great.”

Tiesha’s family lived in an apartment before her mother became a homeowner. Being too young to volunteer, she had little direct experience with the homeownership program. She recalls her mother was always “going to get her hours,” fulfilling the sweat equity requirements that work in lieu of a down payment on the home. Before long, the home was completed and dedicated in a ceremony that involved the entire community.

“It was awesome. I saw all the Habitat people,” she said. “The volunteers were there. I saw different homeowners, different people. Some people from the church came along, and pastor prayed and did the dedication.”

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Her trip to New Orleans was organized by the Student Healthcare Management Association as an educational trip, and it marks the first time she has joined a Habitat affiliate as a volunteer. As someone who knew the impact of the Habitat program, she was excited to be able to be a part of it in a new capacity. Her perspective as both a partner family member and a volunteer gave her insights into the lessons being taught.

“I was raised in a Habitat home, but some people had everything their way growing up… I was less fortunate, but I was able to have a home with Habitat for Humanity. I guess this trip is teaching us to be grateful for the little things.”