New Software Creates a New Place to Call Home

Funding from ECF helps support Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores

Through community involvement, Habitat for Humanity helps families build homes and obtain affordable mortgage payments.

Like many organizations, Habitat relies on members of the public to help support its operations. Also as with many organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on Habitat, its operations and those it seeks to help.

The Habitat ReStore is used to help fund the operational expenses of the organization. ReStore accepts donations of new and gently used items and sells them back to the public at a reduced cost. The proceeds are used to help Habitat provide affordable homes to families. When COVID-19 hit, many of those sales came to a halt.

“The ReStores were closed for in-person shopping for most of March, April and May this year,” says Amber Lachambre, Director of Retail Strategy and Environmental Sustainability at Habitat for Humanity. “We pivoted and moved to a shop-by-phone model, which generated $100,000 in sales revenue.”

Although this was a success for the organization, Lachambre says it was only a fraction of what Habitat would normally make.

That’s when Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) stepped in to provide support through its COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.

“Having to close their ReStore locations to in-store visits was a major financial hit to Habitat for Humanity,” Nneka Otogbolu, ECF’s Director of Communications and Equity Strategy, says. “We were able to provide Habitat for Humanity with $29,000 to upgrade their computer systems to streamline online sales.”

This was wonderful news for Habitat for Humanity and their clients.

“Our charity’s ultimate goal is to help families through our program,” says Lachambre. “This new upgrade will provide the infrastructure we need to maximize our ReStores’ capabilities, which … ensures that we can continue to offer affordable home ownership to an increasing number of families.”

Lachambre is referring to the upgraded sales software that will be implemented in five of the organization’s ReStore locations, provided through funding from ECF.

“At the end of the day, ReStore is all about helping Habitat serve families in our community through the Habitat program. We are always looking for ways to increase our top-line sales and bottom-line profitability in order to contribute more funds to Habitat,” says Lachambre.

Currently, the ReStores operate using a simple cash register and till system. With the new upgrades, Lachambre says, they will be able to implement a computerized point of sale system that will expand the opportunity for online sales.

“The more we are able to grow our ReStore operations, the more funds that we can contribute to the organization and the operational costs to deliver our programs,” she explains. “Ultimately, that means more families will be able to access affordable home ownership, and that is always the end goal for everyone from our organization.”

For those who rely on Habitat for Humanity’s programs, funding for the organization means more than just a new software system; it means a place to call home.

“I was so ecstatic to be approved for the Habitat for Humanity program,” writes Destiny, a Habitat for Humanity program user, in a testimonial. “To me, this means a safe home for my children; a place they can grow up with community.”

Learn more about ECF’s COVID-19 response.