Remodeling project helps Habitat for Humanity

By Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer July 06, 2011 08:14 pm

Project asistant superintendent Richard Mackie marks off project boundaries at the La Grande Retirement Center on Seventh Street near Washington Avenue. The center is getting a complete interior and exterior re-model, with lumber, fixtures and appliances salvaged for the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. The Re-Store will sell the donated items, applying the proceeds to a Habitat for Humanity house to be built later this year. (CHRIS BAXTER / The Observer)
Project asistant superintendent Richard Mackie marks off project boundaries at the La Grande Retirement Center on Seventh Street near Washington Avenue. The center is getting a complete interior and exterior re-model, with lumber, fixtures and appliances salvaged for the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. The Re-Store will sell the donated items, applying the proceeds to a Habitat for Humanity house to be built later this year. (CHRIS BAXTER / The Observer)

Materials removed from makeover at La Grande Retirement Center will be donated to Re-Store

Funding for the next Grande Ronde Valley Habitat for Humanity-built home in Union County is in for a boost this summer thanks to the remodeling of the La Grande Retirement Center.

The sprawling residential complex on Seventh Street near Washington Avenue is undergoing a total makeover, with workers from WC Construction and subcontractors replacing the exterior siding and re-modeling all 46 apartments.

Virtually everything removed, from the cedar siding and sliding patio doors to the cabinets, refrigerators and toilets inside, is being donated to the local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.

In Union County and other places, Habitat for Humanity builds homes for people who might not otherwise be able to afford them. The Re-Store will sell the donated material, with proceeds going to the next local housing project.

David Still, president of the Grande Ronde Valley chapter, said the retirement center donation is a “win-win for the community.”

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Still said. “We’re taking stuff that would otherwise go into a landfill and re-purposing it.”

A Habitat for Humanity Re-Store is a store that takes donations of building materials and appliances — things that might otherwise be thrown away — and sells them to the public.

The money benefits Habitat for Humanity projects. In Union County, Habitat for Humanity has built eight houses for families on limited incomes since the mid-1990s.

The local chapter is setting up another project that likely will begin this fall, so the retirement center donation is seen as a timely windfall.

“All the money we get from the remodel goes to building a future Habitat of Humanity house,” said Re-Store Manager Cindy Knutz.

The retirement center, owned by Enterprise-based Chrisman Development, was built some 30 years ago. Center Manager Donna Brownlee said the owners decided on the remodel after purchasing the property last May.

“Basically we’re upgrading and bringing things up to current codes,” Brownlee said.

She said Nick Jones, WC Construction’s project superintendent, suggested donating the materials to Habitat. The suggestion received support from Brownlee and center Maintenance Director Bob Rynearson.

“It’s easier for us to donate it and let it benefit someone else. We thought that anything that could be donated to them should be,” Brownlee said.

Habitat for Humanity Donations Coordinator Larry Knowles said the 2 by 12 siding planks have already begun arriving at the Re-Store, 2304 R Ave. in La Grande. He said he’s very pleased with what he’s seen so far.

“The workers are doing a remarkable job of keeping things intact so we can re-sell them,” Knowles said.

He said materials from the interior of the building will start coming in about the middle of August. The Re-Store is already taking names of people interested in buying items. The telephone number is 541-963-2414.

People doing remodeling projects of their own can save substantial money, plus help someone in need, by shopping at the Re-Store, said Knutz.

“Everything we have at the store is low cost, and it’s open to the public, not just contractors,” she said.

Knutz said Habitat for Humanity will deliver items inside La Grande for a $10 fee, $20 outside the city. She added that volunteers are needed to help in the delivery service.

“We’re always looking for volunteers, and we always need trucks and trailers,” she said.

Brownlee said center residents will move out Aug. 17 so the interior re-modeling can begin. The residents will be provided with lodging and meals until the project is complete at the end of August.

Brownlee added that Community Connection is working closely with residents who will need transportation or Meals on Wheels service.