ReStore volunteers make homes a possibility for families in need

Ray Walker has been volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity Victoria ReStore shop for six years, helping families find items to make a home. Pictures: MIKAYLA VAN LOON.

By Mikayla van Loon

Habitat for Humanity Victoria is known for its volunteer power when it comes to building houses but there are many volunteers working to keep funds flowing through its charity shop ReStore.

Based in a Kilsyth South industrial estate, volunteers receive donations, assess the quality and man the retail shop daily.

Team leader Ray Walker has been volunteering with the charity organisation for about six years, an opportunity that allows him to help the community wherever possible.

“There are a couple of reasons why people volunteer, people volunteer to help people, to provide a service, other volunteers do it because of the social side, they come in and meet all their friends,” he said.

“Personally, I like dealing with customers and my background is with Victoria Police so I’ve dealt with the public quite a bit. It’s the same with here, I’m dealing with the public and I try to help them out as much as possible.”

Having volunteered with a number of organisations including St John Ambulance and as an Army reservist over a 40 year period, Mr Walker said Habitat for Humanity Victoria is unique in its holistic approach to supporting the community.

“We have different people with different needs, different in what they’re looking for but we try to satisfy everyone’s needs in the ReStore here,” he said.

“The majority of our funding goes towards building homes. We do have a small amount going to staff but most of the people who work on the floor or in the back warehouse actually do it because they want to, not because they’re forced or getting paid to do it.

“They’re the reasons why I find that working here gives me some sort of satisfaction knowing that I’m actually helping someone out there.”

ReStore sells a variety of donated items from building materials like doors, sinks and hardware, to furniture, clothing and toys.

Donated items like insulation, door handles and hinges also go toward the building of homes for people in need, whether that be through an application or in disaster recovery.

Proceeds from the shop go back into supplying materials and purchasing land to help low income families “build or improve a place they call home.”

“We’re actually providing bricks, mortar, nails. We’re actually providing that even though we don’t look at it as that, that’s what every member here does. They actually provide something towards getting those homes for the needy,” Mr Walker said.

ReStore make sure everything they sell is in excellent condition, with volunteers who have skills in woodwork repairing furniture, IT specialists checking computers and electricians testing and tagging electrical goods.

Having set days and teams, Mr Walker said the group of volunteers become like a family that is always willing to welcome new members.

“We would prefer to have other people, some younger people coming in. It would be nice if we had more volunteers and that’s what we’re pushing for. We just haven’t got enough people. We retain them to a certain degree but we still need more.”

Whether interested in shopping, donating or volunteering, ReStore can be found at 2/128 Canterbury Road Kilsyth South or contacted by calling 03 8720 9200 and emailing