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Habitat Restore Of Durham & Orange Counties

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: The mission of the ReStore is to provide revenue for the building of affordable housing, for low income families, through the sales of new and gently used furniture, appliances, and building materials; while promoting environmentally friendly practices. The ReStore supports building and repairing affordable, sustainable housing in partnership with deserving families that are in need through the sale of new and gently used furniture, appliances, and building materials; while promoting environmentally friendly practices.

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1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

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THE WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY IS FRAUDULENT
I was a volunteer at the Habitat restore for Orange/Durham County for two plus years beginning in September 2010. In April 2012, I was recognized as part of a team of key volunteers in Small Donations because of the amount of money we raised. On October 10, 2012, I received a note from the volunteer co-coordinator stating in part, "YOU are a gem and an important member of our team. I look forward to your future support." (Emphasis in original) In February 2012, a donation of two paintings was made to the ReStore. (Florals by Alice B. Chittenden.) I located a gallery online who sells this artist's work (Patrick Kraft of Kargas Fine Art.) He told me the paintings had an approximate value of between $2,000-$4,000. I gave this information to both the volunteer coordinator and the store manager, orally and by email. As requested by Mr. Kraft, and with the store manager's permission, I photographed the paintings and sent the photos by email along with the information that any purchase should be negotiated through the volunteer coordinator. I was assured by email by the volunteer coordinator that she would follow up. The paintings were put in an unsecured storage closet per the volunteer coordinator's instruction. Between February and August, I inquired several times about how much the store had realized from the paintings from both the volunteer coordinator and the store manager. (It takes a long time to generate income of $2,000 in Small Donations.) I received no answer. I finally contacted the executive in charge of the ReStore fearing either mismanagement of a donation or, worse, theft. Apparently, in response to my contact, the store manager finally looked into the matter of the paintings. She apparently determined, that, acting on her orders, the closet was cleared and items put on the floor. She and the volunteer coordinator apparently forgot that they had an offer to purchase the paintings for a significant sum. I was called in for a discussion with the store manager and given this information. The store manager roundly criticized me for going to the executive director (although that is what the policy calls for.) I replied that I had asked both her and the volunteer coordinator for information several times and was given no information. The volunteer coordinator referred me to the store director and the store director told me there were insurance problems with the sale to the gallery. On October 13, 2012, three days after receiving my congratulatory note, I was summarily dismissed as a volunteer. I made written complaint to the Executive Director for Durham County claiming specifically that I was being retaliated against for my complaint. I met with the Executive Directors for both Orange and Durham counties. One seemed only to be concerned about whether I was alleging theft and both were disturbed that I was questioning some management practices. This misperceives the purpose of whistleblower protection. Whistleblowers may file complaints that they believe reasonably evidences a violation of a law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. My reinstatement was denied on the grounds that "[my] opinions about how the store is managed ... were largely negative."

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