July 2020 – What happens when you have thirteen children, 2 parents, 1 house and a team of home improvement experts from Manatee Habitat? You get a stunning new living space furnished with Manatee Habitat ReStore items, fresh paint, new crown molding, custom built shelving, and a huge happy family.
In celebration of Manatee Habitat ReStore’s first anniversary of their new store on 70 and 15th Street East in Bradenton, Director of Retail Operations Karen McElroy offered patrons a chance to win a complete family room makeover. The winner was Yvonne Westermeyer. She and her husband have 13 children and 21 grandchildren and wanted the family/living room space updated and re-designed for get-togethers and provide LOTS of seating.
Before she retired, Yvonne was an emergency room nurse and volunteered in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). There she saw the need for foster care for babies who had medical problems, were premature, and born to parents who could not care for them. She became a medical foster parent to six of these special needs babies which led to adoption. Two additional children came to the family through the Guardian ad Litem child advocacy program. Now all her children are grown and only five of them are still living at home.
When Habitat ReStore’s Karen McElroy heard Yvonne’s story, she knew just what to do. She came up with a floorplan and furniture design, and then gathered enthusiastic volunteers and Manatee Habitat’s critical construction team to get to work. They added custom storage for the family, fixed windows and other odds and ends, finished and removed walls, and installed crown molding. The painters not only made the miss-matched walls a uniform dove gray, faux finish expert and volunteers Karen Davis and Paula Parenteau painted the statement dining room buffet piece to fit perfectly with the décor.
“It was such a fun project and quite different than a new-home build,” said McElroy. “I loved having the opportunity to paint, furnish and accessorize entirely with ReStore items. I am also an avid fan of HGTV and working with Yvonne on this was as exciting for me as it was for her!”
Manatee Habitat ReStore is a nonprofit home improvement store that sells new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price. In its first year at the new location, Manatee Habitat ReStore sold 106,678 items, 8978 pieces of furniture, 9139 pieces of clothing, and 1252 pieces of art. Store revenue helps support the mission of Manatee County Habitat for Humanity as they rehabilitate existing homes and build sustainable, affordable homes for local families in need.
“I am more than grateful for this lovely new living space,” said homeowner Yvonne. “We would like our kids to stay in our family home when we are no longer on this earth. My husband is 80 now and has Parkinson’s. Karen and the team from Manatee Habitat have given us so much – not just in the makeover but in providing a true family space where we can comfortably enjoy spending time together.”
One of the big requests was seating. When a family this large gets together, that becomes critical. McElroy said that in selecting the expansive, neutral colored sectional, she made sure that it had sturdy, stain-resistant fabric that they would enjoy for years to come. The color palette is soft blues and grays with subtle sand and beachy themed accents, giving the space a cohesive and welcoming feel. One of their favorite finds in the Manatee Habitat ReStore was a mahogany table with a built-in chess/checkers board and leaf for added function. Fortunately, Karen also found chairs in the store that were a perfect match. The living room accent tables in a casual yet sophisticated rattan and glass design were another wonderful find at the ReStore.
The makeover, like everything else, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ReStore has adapted to the changes to keep staff, volunteers, shoppers, and donors safe, and has implemented recommended guidelines including social distancing, masks, and taking temperatures at the store. Another option for shoppers, thanks to the quick thinking of McElroy, is utilizing the services of Facebook Marketplace. ReStore items are posted online and shoppers select and pay, then drive through to pick up their purchases without even getting out of their cars.
Unfortunately, the ReStore’s signature fundraising event, the uber popular “ReStore Spaces” has been cancelled this year. The fun and anticipation begin when local contestants accept the challenge to create and design a themed room inside the ReStore entirely with items found in the store. The talent and imagination that is showcased at this event is what draws large crowds, eager to see the designs, vote for their favorite, and enjoy food, fun and shopping. This year, the event will take shape in more of an auction format and the team at ReStore are working on the details.
“Everyone is struggling with the challenges posed by the pandemic, and canceled events is a part of that,” said Diana Shoemaker, Manatee Habitat for Humanity CEO. “We are adjusting to this new way of life but our mission to provide affordable housing continues. Even with the current situation, in June we welcomed home-owner Robin and her daughter Janaiya into their new Habitat house and are working safely to complete three more Habitat homes.” We are especially thankful for our quick-thinking teams of volunteers and staff who adapt and excel with every new challenge that comes our way, and of course, a generous community that supports our efforts year-round.”
About Manatee Habitat Restore:
Located at 5108 15th St E in the City of Bradenton, on State road 70, the store hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. To donate, just drop off your gently used items at the ReStore or call Manatee Habitat to schedule a free pickup at (941) 355-7082. Follow Manatee Habitat Restore on 70 to see Facebook Marketplace items and more.
To learn more about Manatee Habitat for Humanity visit: www.manateehabitat.org