Volunteer Site Supervisor
Interviewed by Brendan Fitzpatrick
Employed at the Rebuilding Center 2008- Present (with some time off in between)
Pete was born in Portland and attended school nearby on Interstate and Going St. After graduating from Central Catholic High School he moved to Chicago for what was thought to be a couple year stay. That couple years turned into eighteen before he returned home. His folks owned an antique shop on Killingsworth and Michigan where he was in charge of fixing and gluing furniture. Pete was frequently here at the Rebuilding Center looking for mahogany or oak or any kind of wood pieces. He says he “was down here every day just bugging the people.” One day, Angel was working and she informed Pete that there was a job opening and he should apply because he was “here all the time anyway”. He didn’t at first, but when his folks were in the process of closing down their antique store (and Angel kept asking) he finally put in an application. Two days later Tom, the warehouse manager, called him for an interview. When Pete came down, he sat down with Tom and Angel and they all just started laughing together because they had all known each other for so long. Needless to say, the interview was brief and pretty much started and ended with a “when can you start”.
He has a background as both a carpenter and as an antique dealer, which is also an asset as an employee because he can identify anything in the store. He has been using materials from the Rebuilding Center to build all kinds of things himself. Pete says he enjoys building a variety furniture and art projects from materials found at The Rebuilding Center. Some of his projects include book cases, dressers and big trestle tables (before everyone started doing it). He is proud of an 8 foot long table he made for his home built out of oak from cabinet doors that also has eight drawers. He has even sold a small table he made to a woman from Michigan who had it shipped to her home there. Pete says he might be bringing down a couple of art projects to show for the opening of the commons. One project he plans on bringing is a chess set that he has shown here before, and the other he describes as “just a box, but that’s all I’m gonna say. But when you see it…”
He has seen the Rebuilding Center and neighborhood grow over the years not only as an employee but also as a customer and resident. He views sustainability as a way of life and that everything can be reused. Pete reminds us that with just a little imagination you can build anything with materials found here. He likes to let the volunteers know about the fun of reuse and reminds them that the materials also have history as well. When asked if he had any words of wisdom for us today he tells us, “Be aware of where you’re at and what you’re doing because if you start paying attention to what you’re looking at you will see things that you can use”.