Volunteers needed, treasured at Charleston Habitat Restore

Anna Lee Turner (left) and Mary Jane O'Neill volunteer at the Charleston Habitat Restore.

Volunteer opportunities abound in the tri-county area.

From schools to hospitals to nonprofits and organizations in between, there are no shortages of places to lend a helping hand.

The thing is, will you make the time?

Joelle Sharisky hopes so. The manager of Charleston Habitat For Humanity Restore, at 731 Meeting St., is looking for people who have the time and the passion to help out in her store. She promises it will be fun and rewarding.

It is a worthwhile cause.

Habitat for Humanity has five stores in the area, and I’m sure any one of them would be happy to get more volunteers.

The stores receive and sell donated goods, and proceeds go to the Christian nonprofit’s mission to help people in need build decent, affordable housing, according to its website.

Sharisky has managed the Charleston store for the last two years with four staff members.

She is thankful for those who volunteer, especially her two mainstays — Anna Lee Turner and Mary Jane O’Neill.

Sharisky said volunteers help to keep the stores going. They can give as little as four hours a week.

Turner has been a volunteer for more than five years.

Possessing a great sense of humor, she describes herself as a retired music teacher who is “old as dirt,” and sings in her church choir as a “fallen alto” now singing tenor.

Before volunteering, Turner would visit the store frequently, mostly ending up in the book section. But “it was a wreck; an explosion of books,” she said.

Then she thought to herself, “You could fix that.” She approached the former manager and ultimately became a regular volunteer.

True enough, the book area is neatly tucked into a corner with creatively arranged books, giving the area the feel of a fun reading nook.

All it needs is a chair, and a visitor might be tempted to stay a while.

The idea is to make the store inviting, Sharisky said. It has lots of interesting items, from knickknack to antiques.

It’s worth spending time there.

Turner spends eight hours every Tuesday and Thursday pricing and arranging things to catch the visitor’s eye.

She enjoys it.

Whatever you enjoy doing, Sharisky believes she can find a fit for you as a volunteer.

For instance, O’Neill, 64, likes running the cash register. The retired school administrator from upstate New York moved to Charleston and has been at the store for the last year.

She has family here, but did not know many people. Her son-in-law suggested she volunteer at the store.

Now she loves it. “My dream job is to work the cash register,” she says with a smile. And that’s what she does four hours a day, three days a week.

Volunteering makes her happy, “like I am helping out. The people are great; just like family.”

The women say they like that what they do ultimately helps others have decent homes.

Since it began in 1989, Charleston Habitat, an affiliate of the national organization, has built 70 homes in Charleston, North Charleston and the West Ashley area.

So if you find yourself with a little time on your hands, give a few hours to the Meeting street store; or one in your area, for that matter. Sharisky and others will be most appreciative. So will the people who get to move into better homes.

To donate, shop or volunteer, call 843-579-0777.or visit www.charlestonhabitat.org/.

Reach Assistant Features Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555, or sgreene@postandcourier.com.