Restoration Enterprises Helps Restore Lives
Substitute people for homes and you wouldn’t be too far off the mark. The nonprofit organization, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this month, is in the business of providing people with the opportunity to change their lives.
Sometimes it’s a relatively minor thing like a functioning bicycle an unlicensed parolee can use to get to that new job; other times it’s quite a bit more substantial, like a loan to help a working mother of two get out of a car and into an apartment.
“Housing, transportation… those pieces are huge for these people,” says retired Shasta County Undersheriff Larry Schaller, chair of Restoration Enterprises’ board of directors.
For Edward Polly, a recovering alcoholic who works as a bike mechanic in Restoration’s warehouse off of South Market Street, the organization “was the cornerstone of how I changed my life.”
Originally ordered by the court to work in the warehouse as the result of a drunken driving conviction, Polly returned as a volunteer once his community service obligations were met. He was ultimately added to the payroll and now has what he considers his ideal job.
“I love the program and I love the fellowship,” Polly says while puttering in a workshop packed with rims, tires, sprockets and other reclaimed and donated bike components. He interacts daily with people struggling to reclaim lives lost to substance abuse, crime and other setbacks and helps set them up with low-cost transportation.
Polly also helps run the Christmas bike giveaway program for underprivileged youth, which Restoration Enterprises inherited from the Redding Rodeo Association and the Shasta County Sheriff’s detention annex.
He calls them “random acts of kindness to make amends to the faceless victims of my past.” Schaller and the other board members call Polly another success story and a smiling, tattooed example of how a person can help himself when presented with the opportunity.
Giving people that chance is at the foundation of Restoration Enterprises, created in 1998 in response to a new community corrections plan adopted by the Shasta County Board of Supervisors. Originally designed to help offenders integrate back into the community, the organization has broadened its scope to include help for others who are disadvantaged.
The key is a helping hand, not a handout. Refurbished bikes are sold, typically in the $20 to $40 range, because Restoration believes a modest investment instills a sense of ownership. Housing assistance loans to help with the first-and-last month’s rent and security deposit hurdles are interest-free but repayment is expected.
“We think it promotes self-esteem,” board member Maggie John says. “These are not just gifts; there’s some character building in the process,” Schaller adds.
Restoration doesn’t believe in handouts for itself, either. The organization sustains itself through an ambitious recycling program operated out of its spacious warehouse on Veda Street. The organization accepts electronic waste—TVs, computers, monitors, printers, fax machines, etc.—for recycling at a plant in Sacramento. Last year it kept 103,000 tons of e-waste out of local landfills. It also accepts small and large appliances and any scrap metal, which it delivers to Northstate Recycling in Redding.
Functioning desktop computers are refurbished, loaded with software and a licensed Microsoft operating system, matched with a flat-screen monitor and sold to students, seniors and nonprofit groups for $100 or $130, depending on the Windows program installed.
Earlier this year, Restoration Enterprises proudly announced the sale of its Anderson-based auto shop to Jim Bell, who had managed the shop for 10 years. “To see Jim Bell in his own auto shop is a true success story. Jim has built the existing clientele and weathered tough economic times,” Schaller says. For his part, Bell says “Restoration Enterprises has blessed my family beyond measure.”
Robert Mainord manages the busy warehouse, a position he earned after starting out as a volunteer. Like Polly, Mainord was a man with a checkered past who was able to turn things around, and now he’s paying it forward.
“There are a lot of people who have gone through some really difficult situations in our community,” Mainord says. “We look for people who want to change their situation.”
The housing assistance program changed the situation for 22 clients in 2012, with loans totaling $10,990. Funds for the revolving loan program originally came from federal Community Development Block Grant funds. In the last two years, Restoration Enterprises has been able to help even more people into adequate housing, thanks to grants from The Women’s Fund of the Shasta Community Foundation, Sunset Rotary Club, US Bank and Redding Bank of Commerce.
The housing assistance, bike program, computer refurbishing and recycling programs are all under the watchful eye of Sheila LaCoste, Restoration Enterprises’ business manager and a key staffer that Schaller says “has a heart bigger than the whole building.”
“This is such a rewarding job, to be able to work where your passion is” says LaCoste, who has served the organization for eight years. •
Restoration Enterprises • 3300 Veda St., Redding (530) 245-0500 • www.RestorationEnterprises.org