Winona couple sacrifices home-building plan to salvage items for Habitat for Humanity
WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) — Randy and Deb Skarlupka planned to build a townhome this year, but the area where they had hoped to locate wasn’t ready.
So instead, the Winona couple decided to remodel their home of 25 years and donate as much of their used materials as they could to Habitat for Humanity to support the organization’s mission of safe, decent housing for all.
The Skarlupkas informed their contractor at the outset that they wanted to keep as much as they could out of the dumpster.
Fulfilling that goal meant Randy has spent days doing delicate tasks such as pulling down oak trim boards and removing each nail so they wouldn’t be ripped off the walls and damaged.
Randy and Deb have salvaged dozens and dozens of items that are still in great working order, thanks in part to Habitat ReStore’s pickup truck. The couple has donated closet organizing systems, kitchen cabinets, appliances, towel bars, heat registers, banisters, ceiling fans, toilets, windows, doors and aluminum gutters.
Restore will sell most of the items to raise money for Habitat, but some pieces will be saved to use in the next Habitat home build in 2021.
Of course, the extra time it took to save so many items is making the remodel take longer than it might have if they had just put a dumpster in the driveway and discarded everything.
But they said the extra work is worth it because Habitat for Humanity provides a valuable service to the community and its residents.
“When you meet those families, they’re so appreciative,” she said, wiping away tears. “Everybody deserves a decent place to live. It makes such a difference to come home and know they are safe.
“It’s changed so many people’s lives,” said Deb, a long-time Habitat supporter and fundraiser who has served two terms on the organization’s board of directors.
.Randy, operations vice president at Miller Ingenuity, also realized Habitat’s vital mission and got his employer involved.
Miller Ingenuity has participated through charitable giving and allowing its employees to volunteer at Habitat work sites on company time.
“Community is one of our values at Miller Ingenuity, and that requires good corporate citizenship,” Randy said. “We provide not just donations but also opportunities for our employees to volunteer as a part of their paid workday.”
Randy met Amanda Hedlund, Habitat Winon-Fillmore Counties’ current executive director, in 2016 when she was looking to move her family to Winona to be closer to her in-laws.
“She’s been a real blessing for the community,” Randy said with a smile.
Hedlund noted that most home remodeling projects results in reusable goods’ ending up in a landfill.
“We hope the Skarlupkas’ story will inspire contractors and homeowners alike to think of Habitat when they renovate,” Hedlund said.
.The Skarlupkas say they hope that sharing their story will inspire other local families to do the same.
“Remember to donate and repurpose as much as you can,” Deb said.
Habitat for Humanity Winona-Fillmore Counties was founded in 1994. Open to the public, ReStore supports affiliate operations by selling new and gently used building materials. The Habitat office is at 126 N. Baker St. in Winona, and ReStore is at 900 W. Third St.