In Loving Memory of Orlyn Huwe

Orlyn Huwe was one of Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity’s most dedicated long-term supporters. He was kind, generous with his time, and passionate about pursuing a way for everyone to have a decent place to live and call home. He was a committed ReStore volunteer, and when our newer ReStore building opened on Harrison Avenue, the store was dedicated to him.

We are humbled to pay tribute to Oryln through the above photos documenting a few of the many moments he spent serving with Habitat and the ReStore. Additionally, we are honored to share some statements from Tonya Thayer (former executive director of RAHFH) and Ed Leach (longtime RAHFH volunteer and current board member), both of whom worked closely with Orlyn over the years.

Here are a few direct quotes from a conversation with Tonya about Orlyn and his impact within Habitat:

“When we were looking for new site supervisors, Ed Leach used to say, ‘They don’t have to know how to build a house, they just have to know how to lead people’. Orlyn Huwe is a great example of a house leader who doesn’t know a thing about building a house, but built a great house every year because he knows how to lead people.”

“Orlyn always felt like fellowship was important, and he would have a cookout in his backyard for all the ReStore volunteers every year, so that they’d have a chance to get together outside the ReStore and get to know each other on a different level. The first year he did that, he had an amazing garden, and he gave us all a tour. He had his raised-bed garden, and he showed us his raspberries, and he walked us all through his very elaborate garden. And I remember he had a bat house, but he didn’t have any bats in it, and he really wanted to figure out how to get bats to his bat house to eat the bugs to save his garden. He had us all trying to figure out ways to lure bats into his bat house.”

“[He was a] very kind man. He was giving, and he accepted people exactly as they were. He was nonjudgmental, and I think that’s why he did so well with Habitat, because he didn’t see the bad in people. He only saw the potential, the positive, the drive, the good. He was that way with the homeowners. He met them where they were at, he helped lift them up.”

“I always appreciated the fact that even though he was a retired pastor, anytime he did a blessing, he was always careful to include everyone. He was inclusive long before people were talking about inclusion.”

“I also love the fact that he made me redo his name tag and take the word ‘pastor’ off of it. He wanted just to be Orlyn. Because he didn’t want people to act different. Or in his words, ‘people act weird when they see the word pastor’. He wanted to just be Orlyn, and he wanted people to know him as that. And he could be himself, and they could be themselves.”

“He had a love for Habitat, because he believed that everyone deserves a safe place to stay. He had a love for the garden. He had love for the earth. He helped us put in rain gardens in a couple of houses, so that where their gutters were, we put in rocks, and we made it natural. And it was important for him to teach the homeowners about the rain garden, and about protecting the earth. He loved his wife Rita. Everything was about Rita, and his grandkids, and his sons. He loved his family. He was a good man.”

“[He was] a very kind man. He was giving, and he accepted people exactly as they were. He was nonjudgmental, and I think that’s why he did so well with Habitat, because he didn’t see the bad in people. He only saw the potential, the positive, the drive, the good. He was that way with the homeowners. He met them where they were at, he helped lift them up.”

Tonya Thayer, Former RAHFH Executive Director

Ed Leach shared the following statement to remember Orlyn:

“I have known Orlyn since May of 2000, when I started helping Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. He was the site leader for the Rockford Lutheran ministries sponsored home. As I later learned was his habit, he greeted, and welcomed me to the site making me feel welcome. He let me fit in where I felt comfortable, and was complimentary of my efforts. We worked together through that year, and after finishing the house, he invited me for coffee. This coffee had a secondary agenda, as he invited me to join the board of Habitat, and lead construction activities. He was complimentary of my efforts, and ‘hooked me in’.

This habit of being complimentary of each person’s efforts is part of what made Orlyn a very special person. He was always a superb site leader, because he could draw in and keep the volunteers returning. Each year, his ‘crew’ would return to build another house.

Orlyn had a strong belief in the Habitat cause of providing housing for the struggling people of our community. Several years ago, Orlyn decided that building houses was no longer the best use of his talents, so he helped establish the ReStore at North Town shopping center.

Since the store opened Orlyn regularly helped on most days they are open. He greeted the customers and helped them with their purchases. While selling the merchandise he also “sold” Habitat’s mission, of helping struggling people to achieve their goal of home ownership.

Orlyn helped with the relocation of the ReStore, within North Town, and again when it was moved across town to near Cherryvale mall. After the store was firmly established at its new location, he started easing out of his active role there.”

“This habit of being complimentary of each person’s efforts is part of what made Orlyn a very special person. He was always a superb site leader, because he could draw in and keep the volunteers returning. Each year, his ‘crew’ would return to build another house.”

Ed Leach, Longtime RAHFH Volunteer and Current Board Member

Once again, as an organization we are honored that we had the opportunity to know and serve alongside Orlyn. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Orlyn’s obituary can be found here.

Staff Spotlight: Doris

Doris is our ReStore Donation Coordinator, and we’re so thankful that she is on our team. Below is our Q&A with Doris– we hope you enjoy!

Q: How would you describe your role at the ReStore?

A: I am everything donations! I schedule our truck for business and residential pickups that we do Tuesday through Saturday. I also take calls/or call back donors who are looking to drop off donations at the ReStore. In addition to that, I schedule days for our drivers to recycle scrap material and cardboard. I am also responsible for celebrating birthdays each month for our team of employees and our “True Blues”!

Q: What is your history with Habitat/ the ReStore? How long have you worked with RAHFH?

A: I have been with RAHFH for 2 years and have loved every moment of it!

Q: What do you love about Habitat?

A: I have always wanted to work for a not-for-profit and RAHFH was at the top of my list! I love how RAHFH is about everything community. Providing safe and affordable housing for families in our community is an amazing thing to be a part of. The ReStore plays a huge part in items not going into our landfills, as well as providing items for re-sale at affordable prices.

Q: What is one of your favorite moments/ memories of working with Habitat?

A: One of my favorite memories so far was attending my first Home Dedication in the fall of 2019. It is a memory that I will take with me forever. I am looking forward to being able to attend them again soon!

Q: What makes you passionate about your work?

A: Our team and volunteers make the ReStore a happy place to work at every day. Also, I get to end each one of my calls with “Thank you for your donation”. That fills my love bucket every day!

Q: What is one fun or surprising fact about you?

A: I used to play the cello. I wish I had not stopped playing but I enjoyed the time that I did!

Q: When you’re not serving with HFH, what are you up to? What do you do for fun?

A: Spending time with my family and friends are a top priority for me! My husband and I love to take road trips to various states to visit family and friends. I also love to read.

Staff Spotlight: Keri

Keri’s story with Habitat for Humanity began when she was a 19-year-old resident assistant at her university. She needed to do a community service project and McDonough County Habitat for Humanity was the option that was still available. Keri signed up and invited other students to come with her. Before she knew it, she was one of 12 freshman girls showing up at a Habitat for Humanity worksite on a Saturday morning at 8am.

“I just had this life changing experience… this really cool moment of clarity on that worksite,” she said. “And I just kept going back.”

And the longer she continued with Habitat, the more motivated she was to stay involved.

“It was so empowering. It was so amazing. It filled my soul,” Keri said.

After she graduated college and moved to DeKalb, Keri quickly found the Habitat affiliate there. She volunteered on Saturdays, got involved in the chapter at NIU, and was invited to be on the affiliate’s Board of Directors. In fact, at the first meeting, she was sworn in as the board’s vice president. She served on the board for nine years, and for a large portion of that time, she was involved with hurricane relief work.

“I went to Pensacola for two years to do Hurricane Ivan relief work over spring break… we partnered with the Pensacola affiliate,” she said “I just loved the comradery, I loved the empowerment, I loved it.”

After Hurricane Katrina, the DeKalb affiliate was contacted by the Habitat affiliate in Slidell, Louisiana. Their city had taken a massive storm surge off of Lake Pontchartrain, and two miles of the city were completely demolished. The Habitat affiliate was hoping to build 100 homes, and they reached out to other affiliates across the nation, asking for help. When Keri got the letter, she put an ad in the newspaper and recruited volunteers. The community came together to provide volunteers and funds for builds in Slidell, and Keri went with a group from DeKalb down to Louisiana for one week.

“I thought that my time with Habitat was life changing before that, but this was… this changed my life. It changed my life,” she said. Then, with a matter-of-fact look on her face, she added, “So I went back 12 times.”

In the following years, Keri used every bit of her vacation and personal time off to take groups back to Slidell.

There’s no casual way to slip this in here, but a fun fact about this season of Keri’s life is that in 2010, she was nominated as one of Oprah’s Everyday Heroes for her volunteer work with Habitat, and she actually got to go to Oprah’s Favorite Things episode! Make sure to ask her about it sometime.

Throughout the years of volunteering during her free time, Keri was working another full time job, and this rhythm of life was beginning to be exhausting.

One day, her sister randomly sent her an email, saying that Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity was looking for an Executive Director. The text in the email said, “Maybe you could take a real vacation now.”

Something about that clicked for Keri. And even though she didn’t think she’d get the job, she applied and showed up in Rockford for an interview in July of 2014. Spoiler alert: she was hired.

Keri says that at the time, she didn’t know how to run a nonprofit. But she thinks that the group that interviewed her saw something deeper than that.

“I think what they saw was my love. They saw my passion, they saw that I’d given so much of my life to Habitat, and I could learn to be an executive director,” she said. “My love of Habitat… I could do that every day. I could spend my life in this ministry, and not just my vacation days. Because it’s hard when you fall in love with something and you have limited resources to do it, or limited time to do it, but now I get to get up every day and do this.”

Keri has now been the executive director of Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity for seven years. She leads this organization with determination and passion, and the love that was visible during her job interview in 2014 is still visible today.

“I love a lot of things about Habitat. But I think the thing I love the most is knowing that every night, hundreds of kids are safer,” Keri said. “I love our Habitat kids.”

One of her most vivid memories from the last seven years is watching a three-year old member of a Habitat family walking in his yard and feeling grass on his bare feet for the first time. She says she can still see him laughing with joy. Another favorite moment is when the daughter of a Habitat homeowner sang at a Habitat volunteer appreciation event, and thanked all of the volunteers for building her and her mom a home.

“Those are the moments that I hold deep in my heart,” Keri said. Those are the moments that keep Habitat’s mission in focus for her.

“I’ve met so many incredible people. They drive me to want to do this. But I think the thing that really solidifies it for me is that we have a tangible opportunity to solve an actual problem.  And Habitat for Humanity is a solution to a huge problem that most people take for granted. We get to do that. It’s humbling. It’s super humbling,” she said. “It’s a legacy solution. We’re not just solving the problem of the person who’s purchasing the house then– we’re creating a cycle. We’re creating a legacy. We’re creating financial stability and opportunity, but we’re also allowing that wealth to be distributed later on in life. And we’re teaching kids that you don’t have to go from place to place, you don’t have to live in scary neighborhoods. The likelihood of the children of our homeowners being homeowners themselves triples.”

Our affiliate has been transformed by Keri’s hard work and passion for serving families in Rockford. We are so grateful for her leadership and the way she has dreams big for this organization. Thank you, Keri, and congratulations on seven years at Rockford Habitat!

Homeowner Spotlight: Tracey

Tracey and her family

Tracey is a born caregiver. In both her personal life and her career, she gives herself selflessly to the care of those around her.

Tracey was born and raised in Rockford, where she graduated from Jefferson High School.  Immediately following high school graduation, she entered school for medical assisting, and she started her career with Crusader Community Health in 2011. She says she loved it right from the beginning.

But after several years of caring for her community in this capacity, Tracey picked her life up and moved to Alabama to help care for her Grandma who was battling Alzheimer’s. After her grandmother passed, Tracey moved back to her hometown and was thankful to be able to pick back up with Crusader Community Health, where she has now worked as a medical assistant for nearly ten years. 

Tracey is also a mother of five beautiful children. She has four girls ranging in age from 11 to 3, and she has a baby boy who will turn 1 this summer.  She said that this big undertaking of building and buying a house is for them. “I have been renting ever since being out on my own, but you know, that is not something that is going to be in the family for my kids. Plus I didn’t have control over the conditions as a renter. We were in places with mold. We were in one place where the ceiling ended up falling in, and water was coming right into the kitchen. With a new baby coming, I knew I needed to get my children somewhere safe.”

That is what spurred Tracey to listen to her brother who was encouraging her to apply to buy a home through Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. She said she was not very familiar with the program, and she did not want to pursue something that was going to feel belittling, but by the end of the application session that she attended, she says it was already starting to feel like family. When she received a phone call at work a few weeks later saying she was approved to buy a home, she was overjoyed.

 Now that construction is underway on her future home, Tracey says she is full of constant excitement. “It’s just a nice warm feeling,” she says with a beam. “To see the smiles on the faces of my kids – you can’t believe what a good feeling that is. Just seeing them happy is everything to me.”

Tracey’s oldest daughter is looking forward to having her own room and painting it pink and purple. Tracey says that this opportunity especially means a lot to her older girls, who have been there with her through everything and understand what a big change it is. For her younger kids, Tracey reflects that this beautiful house will be all they ever know.  

As for Tracey, she is most looking forward to the kitchen, because she loves to cook for her family. She said she’s also looking forward to not having any concerns about leaking and safety.

“I am just so grateful for this opportunity” Tracey says. “Because of this house, I am going to raise my family in OUR home, and that is an amazing thing.”

Staff Spotlight: Kelly

Kelly is one of our ReStore managers, which means she does a little bit of everything at the ReStore—from working on the donations dock and the sales floor to running cash registers from time to time, she truly is (in her words) a Jane of all trades.

Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity was lucky enough to cross paths with Kelly back in 2009, when she donated a large haul of items to the ReStore. She was invited to sit in on a board meeting for Habitat, and then decided to join the board. After serving on the Board of Directors (and even serving as president of the board), Kelly started volunteering at the ReStore. She was eventually hired on as a full-time staff member.

For Kelly, volunteering and working with Habitat and the ReStore is deeply motivated by her desire to care for her community.

“I’m all about the mission. I truly believe that everybody should have the chance for safe and affordable housing, and the ReStore funds that. The cool part about the ReStore is that everything that comes in here, all of our sales and all of our donations stays 100% in Rockford,” she said. “So, what do I love about Habitat? It’s tangible. You can see the outcome. At the end of the year, we have a house. And that’s probably the coolest thing that we do.”

Beyond the ultimate purpose of the ReStore to further Habitat’s work, Kelly also mentioned how it can be a meaningful and comforting place for community members to donate their possessions and loved ones’ belongings.

“At the ReStore, so many people are giving away possessions… and sometimes it can be very hard. We had a full week where everyone was struggling to give away things… We gave a lot of hugs away that week,” Kelly said. “I always promise the donors we’ll find good homes for their things.”

Kelly is one of the rare people who couldn’t decide which of her many fun facts to share. The one she landed on was pretty unique.

“I used to travel for folk music. I’d work for singer/ songwriters, and I ran concert series and festivals. And I was a road manager, travelling around the country with musicians,” she said, proudly adding that “I can change a guitar string in the dark in one minute and fifty seconds.”

Kelly is also an avid tennis fan— when she’s not at the ReStore, she’s most likely watching tennis, playing tennis, teaching tennis, or traveling to tennis tournaments.

Thank you, Kelly, for your enthusiasm and heart that you put into all that you do! You are so appreciated.

Homeowner Spotlight: Tammy

Four years ago, Tammy stood in the driveway at the home dedication for the very first house that Guilford High School students had completed as part of our then brand new partnership program. Her son was a senior in Guilford’s construction trades program at the time, and he had helped to build the home from the ground up as part of his senior year curriculum. Now, Tammy is getting ready to step back onto the construction site, only this time, the house being built by the Guilford students will be her own.

Tammy is a longtime employee of RPS 205 who currently serves as an Office Professional at Ellis Elementary School, and she says she is passionate about education. The evidence of this passion is clear all around her— her oldest daughter, who recently graduated from NIU, is a teacher at Lewis Lemon Elementary School; her oldest son thrived in the Guilford-Habitat partnership program, taking every opportunity to deepen his hands on experience in his field of interest; her 12-year old son is doing great in middle school; and her 5-year old daughter is soaking up everything she can in Kindergarten. As for Tammy, she graduated with her Associates Degree in 2019, and she is looking forward to continuing on for her Bachelors. 

Tammy is a lifelong member of the Rockford community. She and her sisters even had a “girl group” back in the day that would perform and sing around town.  Now, Tammy says she is looking forward to becoming a homeowner invested in her hometown in a brand new way.

“Owning a home is like a cornerstone of building financial freedom and mobility,” Tammy says. “It makes a lot of sense to invest in yourself rather than someone else’s house. To me, it is especially important because I want to have something that I can leave for my children, something that they can take pride in.”

Tammy’s house will be under construction during the 2021-2022 school year. When she moves in the early summer of 2022, she is looking forward to decorating her home the way she wants, to painting her walls, and to having a yard for her kids to play and hang out in. But beyond all of these aspects of owning a home, Tammy says the thing she is looking forward to the most is the simple “pride and freedom” of knowing that the house will always belong to her and her kids.  

Staff Spotlight: Gary

Gary Trueblood is Rockford Habitat’s Assistant Construction Manager, which means that he wears many hats within our organization. He helps with everything from construction management to repairs, and this year, he’ll even be the house leader for our Community Build!

Gary got connected to Habitat as a volunteer about five years ago. His first volunteer experience with Habitat was on a build for a Habitat partner family that went to his church. Here’s a quick fun fact: on the construction site, Gary worked alongside Jack, who is now our Construction Manager. Jack and Gary had actually met each other 10 or 15 years before that when their sons played high school soccer together. Gary also went to the same high school as Jack’s wife, Beth. It’s definitely a small world!

After volunteering on that build site, the rest is history, and now Gary and Jack work together every day.

“I worked all summer volunteering there, and then volunteered another year or so, and then the opportunity came up that I could retire and work part time for Habitat,” Gary said.

Gary loves working for Habitat because of the way that he gets to use his talent and gift for construction to support people in his community.

“What I love is just to be able to serve the community, and to able to see people become homeowners and get into a nice, safe, affordable housing situation,” he said.

He also shared that he enjoys repairing and rebuilding homes.

“That’s kind of a different construction skill than building new houses. You’ve got to really be creative and think on how to repair things and how to fix things,” Gary said.

As he completes repair projects, Gary also enjoys helping Habitat homeowners learn how to do some simple projects around their homes.

“I like to try to teach people how to fix things, and how to do things themselves, so they can be self-supporting later on,” he said. If homeowners learn how to make simple repairs around their homes, they won’t have to hire contractors for those projects in the future.

When Gary isn’t doing a home repair or helping out with Habitat-related work, he enjoys being active. He likes all kinds of outdoor activities, including surfing, biking, hiking and running. He has run 13 marathons and several triathlons over the course of his life! Gary also enjoys golfing, and hopes to hit his second hole in one someday—his first one was in 1978 in Florida.

Gary is incredibly dedicated and hardworking, and our work would not move forward in the same way without him. We are so thankful for the care and quality that he builds into Habitat homes and the way he serves the Rockford community!

green plant leaf with drops in nature

Habitat and the environment: How ComEd helps our homes go green.

As an affiliate, we hope to be as conscientious as possible when it comes to our environmental footprint. That’s why we are so thankful for our partnership with the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program.

This program is an incentive program for the new construction of affordable housing. To break it down, ComEd covers whatever it costs to upgrade materials in the home to meet the energy-efficient requirements. This is a win for the environment as it creates incentive to build eco-friendly homes, and also is a win for communities because it helps open doors to more affordable homes.

Organizations and companies that join the program must meet 13 energy-efficient criteria as they build homes, and in return ComEd helps to cover the cost of materials for the houses. These criteria cover everything from energy efficient lights, appliances, and water heaters to airtight insulation and windows.

Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity applied for and was accepted to the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program in 2019. Since then, we have built five homes that have met the energy efficiency requirements, and we’re prepared to build six more.

Part of the reason we love being a part of this program is the way these environmentally friendly upgrades benefit our homeowners. Because we’re able to build homes that are more airtight, insulated, and energy efficient, Habitat families will save on their electricity, gas, and water bills over time.

Josell, a homeowner who purchased her Habitat home in 2019, is already seeing the impact of this.

“My monthly bill is half of what I have paid in the past. I have never seen a monthly bill this cheap in years!” Josell said in January when she received her first energy bills. “My bill for the month in my new home is a blessing.”

We are truly honored to be a part of ComEd’s Energy Efficiency Program, and believe that this partnership will have a sustainable impact our families, our environment, and our community for years to come.

We hope to be as conscientious as possible when it comes to our environmental footprint. That’s why we are so thankful for our partnership with the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program.

Rockford Habitat for Humanity Builds Futures

By Christina Magee, College & Career Academy Coach at Guilford High School

Angela Diep, Guilford High School alumni

Habitat for Humanity is known for building houses which clients turn into homes that nurture the futures of its residents.  But in Rockford, Illinois, Habitat for Humanity is building not just its clients’ futures, but also the futures of high school students.

In partnership with the Rockford Public Schools, Production Academy students from Guilford and East High Schools take their education off campus to a Habitat build site.  Once on site, these high school students start with a cement slab and begin building the groundwork for their future careers.  All school year, students frame, drywall and tile, install electrical, plumbing and flooring until the house is finished. 

“The best part of the experience is getting to see the house we built become a home for a family we worked side by side with” expresses Angela Diep, Guilford High School alumni. 

Just like a house must start with a foundation, Angela’s construction education began back at Guilford High School in the foundation class, Introduction to Industrial Technology.  As a freshman, Angela discovered her love for woodworking and was excited to know that someday she could go off campus and build a house. 

“I thought that it was a great opportunity for me and would be cool to interact with teachers and students in a different way than we normally would in regular classes, and I was right!” she said.

Angela is currently enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in architecture.  While at Guilford High School, Angela had the opportunity to participate in the Habitat for Humanity off campus build project both her junior and senior years. 

“Building houses in high school allowed me to have a different perspective than other architecture students.  I’ve gotten to see how things work in the construction process and understand things that may seem complicated from a construction point of view such as wrong measurements, odd wall placements or no structural support. I’ve also seen how to utilize all areas in the house for maximum space usage,” she said. “Bringing up the fact that I’ve been able to build these houses has helped me build connections with my architecture professor and woodshop advisor, which could possibly open up many more opportunities for me in the future.” 

Beyond specific building skills, this experience has allowed Angela to grow as a leader.   

“During my time building the Habitat houses, I’ve also gotten some experience in being a leader. Mr. Anderson (Guilford’s Construction Teacher) allowed me to be in charge of the other students and trusted me to get work done. I know I can always ask for help and feedback from Mr. Anderson and the Habitat volunteers that I’ve gotten to know from the build,” she said.

Most importantly, having this experience has solidified Angela’s passion for giving back. 

“Volunteering has also become important to me, so I try to help the community whenever possible,” Angela said. “This year I’m a part of a volunteer organization that builds furniture for places that really need it. Our project right now is for a space that students go to when they need a safe place to do homework or stay after school. Our goal is to make it a comfortable and vibrant place with the hopes that the students get excited to go to it.”

Angela is just one of many Guilford High School students who have built their future career paths around the experiences they have gained on the Habitat for Humanity build site.  When asked about her most meaningful experience from her time in Guilford’s Construction Pathway Angela said, “Seeing families get the thing they have worked so hard for was the most rewarding feeling.” 

Habitat for Humanity is changing lives for so many in our community…. Guilford High School students included!

Staff Spotlight: Ericka

Meet Ericka, one of our ReStore cashiers! Ericka is incredibly kind, and is skilled when it comes to providing excellent customer service at the ReStore. Her role on the ReStore team includes cleaning and sanitizing high-touch traffic areas for the safety of ReStore customers and team members, as well as running the cashier and assisting customers.

Ericka has worked at the ReStore since November of 2020, and has a pretty fun story of how she ended up on staff at the ReStore.

“I found out about it because I shopped here,” she said. “I would shop here all the time. Before it was here (on Harrison Ave.), I was going to the one on North Main, because we were redoing our house… I tell everybody, you will come here and shop, and then you will want to work here.”

Though she has shopped the ReStore for all kinds of items, Ericka’s favorite section of the store is a no-brainer.

“Housewares,” she said with a laugh, describing her system of donating old items and finding new things at the ReStore.

“I have a butler’s pantry, and I feel that I have to fill it up… My husband does not like it, but I do,” she joked.

Beyond being a loyal ReStore shopper, there are many other reasons why Ericka loves working at the ReStore.

“I love the people, I love all the different stuff that we always get… but really, it’s the people. Some of the people come in every single day,” she said.

Ericka also feels very connected to the ReStore’s mission in helping to increase access to homeownership in Rockford through Habitat for Humanity.

“Oh, I love it, because I know three people that actually got their houses through Habitat for Humanity in Rockford,” Ericka said. “And I always tell people, if you want to get a house, go to Habitat for Humanity.”

When Ericka isn’t at the ReStore, she loves to play and watch soccer. She played for 30 years leading up to the pandemic, and can’t wait until there are opportunities to get out on the field again.

We are so thankful for Ericka and the role she plays on the ReStore team. Thank you, Ericka, for all that you do to make the ReStore excellent!