Volunteer helps local Habitat's ReStore thrive

August 24, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- Most days, you can count on finding Ed Ruos at ReStore, the newly opened venture of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County.

Every once in a while, though, his wife reminds him he has a "honey do" list at home and he spends the day tackling projects there.

ReStore is housed in the old Coca-Cola Distribution building at 100 Charles St. in Hagerstown, along with the Habitat for Humanity of Washington County offices. Business has been good since the grand opening in June, despite the closing of Jonathan Street for construction, those involved said.

With local housing construction down and contractors minimizing waste at construction sites, the amount of new and used building supplies donated has been less than expected, ReStore manager Ken Welch said.


The building supplies include lumber, lighting, tile, plumbing, siding and more. The store also has gently used appliances, household items and nonupholstered furniture. All of the merchandise is available for sale to the public at a substantially reduced cost.

"All the money we raise goes to Habitat of Washington County," Welch said. "The money raised here stays here. It goes to help build houses in Washington County."

Ruos is one of about 20 regular volunteers. The woodworking skills he learned in high school have been an asset he uses to repair wood items for resale.

"He's the nuts and bolts of the operation," Welch said of Ruos.

Ruos, 77, who grew up in Bridgeville, Del., has been a local Habitat volunteer for about four years and is a board member. He estimates he volunteers about 20 hours per week at ReStore.

He served on the building committee for two years and traveled with a local group to Alabama to help with a three-day building blitz.

Ruos has lived in Hagerstown for 40 years. He and his wife, Beti, a teacher who grew up in suburban Philadelphia, have four grown children -- three sons and a daughter.

Ruos, who was one of the owners of Antietam Equipment Co. on Leitersburg Pike, said he has retired twice. His career involved selling farm equipment as a district manager, a job for which he traveled across the Northeast.

Now, Ruos is content working at the "little woodworking bench" he has created in the warehouse. A member of First Christian Church, Ruos considers himself a mentor to the younger volunteers who are working there to meet community service requirements.

Beti Ruos volunteers at ReStore one day a week, helping behind the counter.

"The people we work with are fun to work with," Ed Ruos said. "It's a pretty close-knit group. We work well together."

He was part of the group that helped transform the 10,000-square-foot building into a space with offices, a meeting room, store and warehouse area. He said it was quite an accomplishment.

It's not hard for him to explain his commitment to Habitat and ReStore.

"It gets you up and out in the morning," Ruos said. "I look forward to it, the people here."

ReStore donations

Donations for ReStore can be dropped off at the store Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Donors can arrange for items to be picked up by calling 301-745-5457 or sending an e-mail to

For more information on Habitat for Humanity of Washington County and ReStore, go to

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