Merced County Times Newspaper
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Grand Marshal ready to lead Atwater Christmas Parade on Friday night

Lyle Allen works at the Re-store on Broadway in Atwater.
Lyle Allen works at the Re-store on Broadway in Atwater.

It’s time for one of the City of Atwater’s favorite events, the annual Atwater Christmas Parade, and on Dec. 3, starting at 7 p.m.

This year’s Grand Marshal, Lyle Allen, a great community member who works at Re-store and networks well with the Atwater business community, will lead the Parade, entitled “Holidays on Ice.”

Allen told the Times, “Alice Gilbertson, who is this year’s Parade Chairperson for the Atwater Chamber, called me and said the Chamber Board wanted to know if I would serve as Grand Marshal.  I said, ‘Yes, I would be delighted.’

“I’m very appreciative that I was chosen for that position, and I am looking forward to it.  It’s going to be a highlight for me.  During the Parade, I’ll be thrilled to be sitting next to the driver in the City of Atwater’s old vintage fire truck.  It’s a nice-looking piece of the past.”

“I live in Merced.  I’ve been with the Re-store in Atwater for about four years.

“We have two Re-store locations on Broadway, 1200 Broadway and 1230 Broadway.  We are open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  If we could recruit more volunteers, we would be open more days.

“At the 1230 Broadway address, we have appliances and furniture, and we have that divided into areas for dining room, bedroom and kitchen things.  At 1200 Broadway, we have smaller items, mostly household goods.

“I work there on Wednesday and Saturday, and Jan, who is the President, works on Fridays.

“Re-store is an operation sanctioned by Habitat for Humanity International, and it allows individual Habitat affiliates to have a Re-store operation which will generate funds for the Habitat home builds.  There are Re-stores all across the nation.

“The way the Re-store in Atwater came about is Habitat for Humanity was looking for a location, and finally we saw an ad that the Passadori’s building was available.  We took over what used to be the hardware store, and after about two years, they had closed down the Passdori’s store which sold appliances and furniture, so we were able to work with them and expand our business, and we essentially doubled the space we had.

“It really worked quite well for us, since that essentially doubled our business.

“Since we opened the store, we have had great customers, mostly from Atwater, but also customers from within a 15-mile radius, and they are loyal customers and I’m delighted to be in Atwater.

“Our whole staff is made up of volunteers; we don’t have any paid employees.  That’s unusual.  A lot of the Habitat Re-stores are in larger cities and have paid staff and directors.  Ours is probably one of about 16 in the whole United States that’s totally volunteer.

“The items that we get are all donated to us, and many are virtually brand new.  “Our prices are about half the retail prices usually charged at a regular store.

“It’s consistent with Habitat.  The houses we build are designed to go to people who are earning a little less than the median income in Merced County, so they are those who have a moderate income and have trouble saving money for a down payment.  We interview families and ask them to apply while building homes, and then we choose a family for each home we build.  The families put in 500 hours of sweat equity, which is essentially their down payment.  At the end, we sell to them at cost so we can sell the house well under the market value for the home.  We carry the mortgage with a no-interest loan.  We want families to move in paying no more than their monthly rent.  Included in their monthly payment will be the taxes and insurance for the house.  Since they have no experience owning a home, it’s better for us to make sure those things are taken care of in a timely way.”

Commenting on the Atwater Chamber’s selection of Lyle Allen for Parade Grand Marshal, Alice Gilbertson, Parade Chairperson, told the Times, “Re-store has been a good re-use, and a good neighbor to the business community.  Lyle Allen has been instrumental in expanding Re-store and is dedicated to Habitat for Humanity.”

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