New Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Belfast should eliminate group's need for fundraising

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Jun. 22—BELFAST, Maine — After three years of planning, construction on the new Habitat for Humanity of Waldo County ReStore should begin by the end of the summer — as long as funds can be raised to make that happen.

The home improvement and donation center, slated for Belmont Avenue in Belfast, should be good for local residents, who will be able to buy building materials, appliances and furniture at bargain prices. It also will be a boon to the Waldo County chapter of the nonprofit housing organization, according to Ed Varney, the treasurer.

He said that for years, whenever organizers of Habitat for Humanity of Waldo County wanted to build a new home for a family in need, they had to raise at least $100,000 before a hammer could be swung.

It's a big — and constant — ask.

"It's pretty hard to raise that much money every year to build a house," Varney said Monday.

But the ReStore should eliminate the need for annual fundraising. Proceeds from it will fund the organization's operations, which focus on building affordable homes in partnership with families in need of a place to live.

The capital campaign to fund the construction has a goal of $405,000 and is a little more than halfway there, he said.

"When we have a ReStore, we can be self-sustaining," Varney said.

Habitat ReStores have an ever-changing inventory, with items that generally fit into the categories of building materials, appliances and furniture. The products are all donated, with most of them coming from contractors, stores and the general public, Varney said. There's been a lot of local interest in the planned ReStore, he said, adding that other ReStores in the area are located in Rockport, Bangor and Waterville.

"The Habitat office continues to receive calls from people who want to donate stuff they have, and we don't have a place right now for that," he said. "We get calls on a regular basis asking when the ReStore is going to happen."

Organizers hope to begin construction on the building by the end of August or beginning of September. When it happens, it will have the feel of an old-fashioned, community barn-raising, they said.

"As far as labor to erect the building itself, the hope and assumption is that it's going to be free labor," Varney said. "We're hoping to get a bunch of carpenters together and have the pieces cut and the walls put in place."

The plan to build the new ReStore has been in the works for three years, he said, with the coronavirus pandemic causing a major delay. But it's full-speed ahead now for the organization.

"We had a couple of challenges, but we're back on track now," he said. "We made up our mind we're going to do it."

Anyone interested in volunteering or contributing to the organization should call 207-338-2344 or write hfhwcoffice@gmail.com.

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