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Habitat ReStore earns award for employing veterans

By Sonny Long
Oct. 29, 2012 at 5:29 a.m.

The Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity ReStore recently won the Texas Veterans Commission 2012 Small Business Employer of the Year Award. Four of the eight employees are military veterans. Pictured are from the left, Joe DeLosSantos, Joe Wier, Ruby Ruiz, store director, Randy Webb, Juan Hernandez and Ernie Pemberton, Texas Veterans Commission.

GOLDEN CRESCENT HABITAT FOR HUMANITY RESTORE

• LOCATION: 1101 N William St., Victoria

• HOURS: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday

• INFORMATION: 361-570-4700

Experience works.

It can also win awards.

Ruby Ruiz, director of the Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity ReStore, has learned that lesson four-fold.

The ReStore has been named winner of the Texas Veterans Commission 2012 Small Business Employer of the Year Award.

Half of the store's eight employees are military veterans.

"It just worked out that way," said Ruiz. "They all applied for available jobs and made a favorable impression on me.

"They are all phenomenal workers. They all know a little about everything and take pride in their work. That's one thing that helps make the ReStore so successful."

The veteran workers, who have all worked at the ReStore about a year, include warehouse superintendent Joe DeLosSantos, assistant manager Joe Wier, transportation director Juan Hernandez and Randy Webb, who handles customer sales.

Webb served in the U.S. Navy, and the other three are Army veterans. Hernandez is an active member of the Army Reserves.

All are part-time employees working between 20 and 25 hours per week.

To a man, the quartet singled out the camaraderie among the workers as the best thing about their jobs.

"We're like family. We have a lot of fun doing the job we do, and it's for a good cause," said Webb. "This is the first time I've ever looked forward to coming to work even though I'm the only Navy guy."

Ernie Pemberton, of the local Texas Veterans Commission office, nominated the store for the award after shopping there to assist a homeless veteran.

"Joe's (Wier) and Ruby's smiles first caught my attention," said Pemberton. "During the course of conversing with Joe, I found out he had been in the Army and asked how many other veterans worked here.

"Because of the customer service I received and what they do for veterans, I nominated them."

Ruiz, the store's only full-time employee, said the group's experience has improved the ReStore's bottom line, too.

"Before this group came in, we just put things out and hoped they worked. These guys make sure everything works or it doesn't go on the floor," she said.

The ReStore accepts donations of new and used building materials and fixtures from a variety of sources and resells those materials at bargain prices.

The ReStore, which turns 13 on Nov. 1, will show off its award and its veterans with an entry in the Nov. 10 Veterans Day parade.

Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity executive director Cynthia Staley said hiring veterans will continue to be an organizational policy.

"Hiring veterans is something that really just happened," said Staley. "But once we realized what a terrific source of labor this is, we are now committed to maintaining this level of hiring. Our veterans have initiative, great can-do attitudes and aren't afraid to tackle anything. We love them."

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