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Habitat for Humanity of Missoula is closing out a bustling 2014.

The nonprofit moved its headquarters from central Missoula to East Missoula, where it also opened a home improvement store that sells new and gently used goods.

It's also in the final stages of two Habitat homes – one on South Seventh Street West and another in the 44 Ranch neighborhood off Reserve Street.

The Seventh Street home was built with the help of Thrivent Financial, a Fortune 500 investment firm and faith-based nonprofit that partners with Habitat.

The firm last week announced an $82,500 grant for another Missoula Habitat house next year.


The nonprofit's new office and ReStore are just past Peacock Street in East Missoula, in the building that used to house Tropical World.

Terri Simmons, the store manager, said volunteers and workers started cleaning the interior last July, and a grand opening was held earlier this month.

They've stocked its 6,500-square-foot retail space with couches and chairs, lamps and shelves, kitchen tables and end tables. Those looking to fix up their houses should head to the back, where doors, toilets, sinks, glass, boarding, trim, lighting, windows and more are arranged in rows.

Simmons said the store attracts a fair amount of traffic, including regulars who stop in every day or two to make sure they don't lose items to the fast turnover.

"It's different every time you come in," Simmons said.

Frankie Feinstein, the Habitat volunteer coordinator, said about 10 people are donating time at the ReStore. She said volunteers are needed to help stock the donations and work the counter.

The ReStore is a new venture for the Missoula area, but not on the state or national level.

There are 800 to 1,000 Habitat ReStores across the country, including in major Montana cities such as Billings, Great Falls, Helena and Kalispell.

The local Habitat office decided to move its headquarters to East Missoula where it could house its offices in addition to the ReStore.

Before the move, Habitat officials talked with Home ReSource, which offers similar services, and completed a penetration study to see if there was a need for a second such business, said Frankie McBurney Olson, executive director of the Missoula Habitat.

It concluded there was a need, and Habitat proceeded.


As a faith-based nonprofit, Thrivent puts its profits back into the community through partnerships such as Habitat, said Lee Christianson, a Missoula Thrivent financial consultant.

Through the Thrivent Builds program, the company has awarded $432,546 in grants to the Missoula Habitat from 2006 to 2014 with grants falling just about every other year. The grants require volunteer hours and financial commitments from eight local Lutheran churches that total thousands of hours and $89,000 for the six Thrivent homes.

Feinstein said the commitments have been a "significant" help.

The significance of the change in people's lives in the major reason that Thrivent works with Habitat, he said.

"Home ownership is a powerful asset. It's a powerful way of moving yourself up economically," Christianson said.

Feinstein, too, said that it bucks a trend toward recidivism in the nonprofit world, creating an asset that can be passed on to the owner's children.

Locally, Feinstein said the homebuilding operations rely on and bring together numerous groups throughout the community – businesses, religious communities, college students, high schoolers and more.

The two homes that are in their final stages are the nonprofit's 47th and 48th houses in Missoula. It plans on building two homes each year moving forward.

Dedication ceremonies for the families will be announced after the homes pass their final inspection. They'll likely take place early next month.

Feinstein said it was "a good year," and a "challenging year," and they're looking forward to breaking ground on their 49th and 50th houses in 2015.

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