By Melody Vallieu
TROY — One local “Mrs. Fix It” has put her skills to work helping others for nearly the last two decades.
Sandy Fisher of Troy, a retired Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Troy Junior High School, has devoted her retirement to serving Habitat for Humanity of Miami and Shelby Counties and its mission that envisions Miami County as a place where every resident has access to quality and affordable home ownership opportunities.
She first started with Habitat, however, when she was still teaching, as a way of keeping busy during the summer months. She said she started with builds and women’s builds, helping on more than six local homes. She then served on Habitat’s board, and when her term was up, decided to try her hand at helping at the ReStore.
“Doing the builds, I learned some of the construction stuff,” said Fisher, who is married to husband Steve and has three children and two grandchildren. “That has come in handy.”
Fisher said the ReStore’s new location at 140 W Main St., Troy, has seen three times more traffic than the old store location in downtown Troy ever did. Which, she said, is great, because ReStore sales are the non-profit organization’s biggest fundraiser for helping people in the two-county area.
Fisher said home improvement materials items for the ReStore come in from local home improvement stores, builders and the public. Items range from appliances to lighting to tools and windows.
Fisher now spends three to four days a week at the ReStore doing whatever is needed, including sorting, stocking shelves, working the cash register, and even cleaning and preparing incoming donations for sale.
“I guess my least favorite is cleaning toilets,” she said, laughing.
In fact, a green bidet — a type of toilet — is probably the most unusual item she said she has seen come into the ReStore.
“People wanted to know what was wrong with the toilet,” she said. “It was a real conversation piece. And, it sold!”
There is an upside to the physical labor the job sometimes requires, she said.
“This also is my gym membership. I get my workouts, my strength training,” she said, picking up a stack of floor tiles and moving them to a nearby shelf.
One of Fisher’s favorite parts of volunteering is the reward of helping others, she said.
“You always think ‘I can’t wait to retire,’” Fisher said. “Then you think need need to do something meaningful. I have found that with Habitat and now the ReStore, it’s like my second home.”
Helping the store’s customers, many of whom come often — and some who are even former students — is enjoyable to Fisher as well, she said.
“It has been fun. I like the people who work here, the other volunteers,” she said. “I do it because it makes me feel good. It has been rewarding.
“I also like seeing and talking with people about their creative projects and the young people looking to start their homes,” she said.
Bill Horstman, executive director, said Fisher, a Master Gardener, is a godsend for the store, along with several other core volunteers. He said her expertise at pricing items and working with customers is just what the non-profit store needs.
“She is our rose in our rose garden,” Horstman said. “She could probably run this place in her sleep.”
Fisher and her husband, who enjoy vacationing, even incorporate visits to other other ReStores around the U.S. into their trips. She said they have visited ReStores throughout Ohio as well as Kentucky, Florida and even Hawaii.
“I share with them and bring back ideas of what they’re doing that works,” she said.
The ReStores serve many purposes within their communities, Fisher said, including offering low-cost home improvement materials to the public and keeping reusable items out of the landfill. The store’s proceeds then support the Habitat mission of eliminating substandard housing. In Miami County, Habitat, since 1993, has built 44 homes serving more than 200 people.
“She is definitely committed to our philosophy and our mission,” Horstman said. “The better (the ReStore) runs, the more efficient it operates, the more we have the oppourtunity to do what we do helping others.”
“Everybody deserves a decent place to live,” Fisher said.
Reach Melody Vallieu at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 552-2131