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Renew, Rebirth, ReStore

What Habitat For Humanity Does For Our Community

            By:  Jan Morgan-Swegle

As I drive around the town of Leland, I see so many construction sites—new apartments, new retail stores and new homes. So I should not have been surprised to see signs on the corner of Dresser Lane and Village Road announcing a groundbreaking on April 18 for a new structure. But this isn’t your typical construction site—the is the re-birth of the Brunswick County Habitat for Humanity Leland ReStore., and that’s something to get excited about.

According to Kate Grinstead, Development Manager and Jason Gaver, the Interim Executive Director for Brunswick County Habitat for Humanity, they will be celebrating their 31st year in Brunswick County in June and will be building their 100th home this summer. The new ReStore will be bigger and stocked with furniture and home goods. The store will be open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9 am to 4 pm. The store accepts donations of gently used home goods, furniture, books, construction materials, holiday items and more.  They also sell brand-new area rugs, paint, laminate flooring, and mattresses.  The ReStore facility has a truck that will come to your home and pick up your furniture to make it even easier to donate those items that don’t fit the coastal vibe that we enjoy here in the South.

“We used to occupy the old Chinese restaurant on Village Road,” Kate said, “but we didn’t own the land or the building. It was small and not really ideal for a ReStore. We purchased the land for the new building and are ready to break ground. Currently, there are three Habitat ReStores in Brunswick County. This one will be a 15,000 square foot retail building using indoor and outdoor space. We will have more room for donated items. Get ready for a beautiful space.”

Kate looks at the ReStores like a cycle. “Let’s say you decide to downsize your living arrangements and move to a warmer place. You donate your gently used furniture to us for the ReStore and we sell it at a reduced cost to consumers. Some may be Habitat Homeowners, but we are open to the public. We take the proceeds from what we sell and use it to offset the cost of building homes for others.”

Like most people, I thought Habitat for Humanity was all about building houses for underprivileged people. I found I was way off the mark.   

“A lot of people have a preconceived idea that we give homes away for free,” Jason explained. “That’s not true. The people who ultimately receive a Habitat for Humanity home go through an application and selection process.  We work with people who either live, worship and/or work within Brunswick County.  If you look at our website, you will see that prospective homeowners have to demonstrate a need for safe, affordable housing.  They are typically low to moderate income families, whose income does not exceed 60 percent of the area median income as defined by HUD.”

“We have found that families come to us for a variety of reasons — unpredictable rent increases, overcrowded living conditions, or the lack of means to affordable financing,” Kate said. “Once the perspective homeowner applies and is accepted, they partner with us, performing “sweat equity” by helping to build their home or the homes of others.  Part of their sweat equity can be fulfilled through volunteer work in our ReStores, and admin office where they also take homeownership classes.  Our homes are built by teachers, sheriffs, nurses, EMS workers, construction workers, and even grocery store clerks.  Basically, we are you.”

“It takes 30 volunteers a day to staff our three Brunswick County stores,” Kate said,  “and we are always looking for people to help us. If you can’t donate furniture, home goods, or help us build a home, please think about giving us the gift of time and volunteer at one of our stores. Go to our website to see our other locations in Brunswick County. We really need your help. It takes more than a village; it takes a community.”

Jason explained how new homeowners become a part of the Habitat community, and the community at large. “Our homeowners must be able to pay on an affordable mortgage,” he said. “We make a reasonable effort to ensure that the mortgage does not exceed 30 percent of the homeowner’s gross monthly pay, and they are required to attend financial education and budget planning classes.  We work with USDA and First Bank, and they can offer these homeowners a rate that could be three or four points lower than the norm.”

The mission of Habitat for Humanity isn’t only to build homes or sell gently used items, it’s also to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Their vision is “A world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

I was widowed when I was 24, and I had a baby to take care of and a low paying job. I spent the next 10 years in apartments—some better than others. I dreamed of giving my child a home—a home without nasty neighbors, shared swing sets and broken-down laundry facilities. I wanted a home to build my dreams. I wish I had reached out to Habitat for Humanity, but I’m glad that others can.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A house is made with walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.” The people who work with Habitat for Humanity understand that. They live it every day.

To learn more about homeownership or volunteer opportunities,  visit


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