But when they retired 14 years ago, they happened to be in a Sunday School class with two of the founders of Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland: Bob Sain and Jim Tucker. Both men asked Ed to consider serving on the board of directors at Habitat, and since that time Ed has served as vice president of the board for a year and then as president for two years.
“When you’re retired, you have to do something,” Nancy said. “You can’t just sit around. You have to give back to the community. Habitat is a good organization.”
Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland is a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating poverty and homelessness. Since the group’s establishment in 1991, Habitat has partnered with low-income working families, churches, sponsors and communities to build decent, affordable housing.
Families in need of decent shelter apply to local Habitat affiliates. Throughout the process, homeowners must take certain classes and also invest hundreds of hours of their own labor, called “sweat equity,” into building Habitat houses and working in various support areas.
After receiving their home, each family repays on a low-cost, zero-interest loan. The homeowners' monthly mortgage payments are based on income and are used to build still more Habitat houses.
Ed was part of the team that moved the Habitat ReStore from its old location in downtown Cleveland to the new location on Grove Avenue. Habitat of Cleveland now has two ReStores in Bradley County, one at 300 Grove Ave. S.W. and one at 4605 North Lee Highway.
The ReStores accept donations from businesses and individuals of new and gently used items ranging from clothing to appliances to building materials. The items in the ReStores are for sale to the public, and all profits from the ReStores go directly to Habitat of Cleveland to build homes for qualified families in Bradley County.
The McCartney couple wanted to do more to help the ReStores. So, three years ago, after visiting a couple of other Habitat ReStores across the country that conducted silent auctions, they decided to try it.
“This was something we could do together,” Nancy explained.
A display case was set up at the front of the Grove Avenue ReStore so customers could come in and view the available items. If they wished to make a bid, customers could enter their name, amount and contact information in the auction binder next to the display case.
The McCartneys started by displaying 15 items at a time and soon expanded to displaying 24 items every two weeks. Items are also photographed and displayed on the Cleveland Habitat ReStore Facebook page and on their website www.habitatofcleveland.org/restore.
In every area of Habitat, the McCartneys have been truly loyal and dedicated, ReStores Director Paulette Smart stressed. “The McCartneys are special. The silent auction has contributed thousands of dollars toward building houses in Bradley County.
“We try and do some antiques, some collectables, something high–priced, something low-priced, something kids might like; just get a good variety for each auction,” McCartney explained. “Some people will bring in a donation and ask that it be in the auction, something that either has a lot of sentimental value or they know is an antique. We get cool stuff.”
Along with a friend who is an antique dealer, McCartney selects the items and generates all the initial paperwork. After the auction closes, Nancy contacts the winning bidders and makes sure they receive their new treasures. The couple estimates they probably volunteer an average of 10 hours a week.
“They completely run [the Silent Auction] from beginning to end, and it wouldn’t happen if they didn’t run it,” said Tammy Johnson, resource development director. “I feel like [they are] the unsung heroes we have here at Habitat. Somebody who comes in and does their job, and because they do their job it helps us move forward in many ways that people don’t even see, or know, or realize.”
The Silent Auction, Johnson stressed, “... is a huge blessing to us; it helps continue to bring in funding for families and to help build homes.”
Volunteers are the foundation of the ReStores. Opportunities are available in procurement, receiving, merchandising, customer service and cashiers at both ReStores.
Those interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity should call the nonprofit’s Volunteer Services Department at 473-4610, ext. 202, or sign up online at www.habitatofcleveland.org/volunteer.