By: Ella Rose Kelly
This April 11th will be 14 years at the ReBuilding Center, and I am so diggin’ on it. In addition to this job, I’ve had 72 other jobs in Portland—25 years of construction work, a fire watch, and many cashiering jobs. This is my favorite job.
It’s a bizarre story of what led me to work at the ReBuilding Center. I had been cashiering for a while at Big City Small World Produce, and there was a young lady, Nora, who bought food there all the time. She worked at the ReBuilding Center. One day, Nora overheard me telling someone I needed a second job because I was buying a house. She said that the ReBuilding Center was hiring, so I came down and applied. I was looking for a job, but this job came and got me.
I haven’t always loved my jobs, but I always like them. You don’t always feel good when you start a job—you might be uncomfortable because of the unknown. But once you know it becomes a part of you and you can work it. I had already been a customer at the ReBuilding Center before I started working here. I was always impressed as a customer because the ReBuilding Center was the place to come to find what you need at a reasonable price. When I started working here, though, it was my first time learning about reuse and sustainability. I was nervous about learning everything that we do here. It was hard learning… but just like riding a bike—once I learned, I never stopped. I’m all about saving the Earth now. It’s part of my being.
Because of my past jobs as a cashier, I was already familiar with meeting people. Meeting people is right up my alley. I get to meet phenomenal people from all over. I like to be personal with customers because our community is like family. I help them with ReBuilding Center questions, but I also ask them how they are doing. I encourage them when they are hurting. Sometimes customers come in sad, but leave happy. That means something to me. That’s not recycling wood, that’s recycling kindness. We all have goodness to share and an ability to show love. The more goodness we share and love we show, the better we can make the world.
I am very proud and honored to be an Assistant Store Manager. I was nervous at first, but I am getting more familiar now. I am learning things one at a time and walking the walk. It’s important to be there for our co-workers and that is what I have always tried to do. As an Assistant Manager, I have been a part of the Executive Director search. I am excited to participate. It’s a learning experience and it’s a good experience I am diggin’ it. I believe the most important quality for our next Executive Director to have is heart. They need to have the heart of the people, the heart of the employees, and the heart of the community.
What we do—we’re bad to the bone, we’re amazing. We give back to the community. We are a monument and we are here to stay. Sometimes I worry that we will lose guests because of issues, like parking or new buildings, but no matter what, the guests will still come. What gives me hope is hearing our guests say, “I’m glad the ReBuilding Center is here. I’m glad you aren’t leaving us.” My advice to us is to be encouraged and to never give up. We must stand our ground and keep supporting the sustainability cycle. Doing this will benefit the Earth. And when we save the Earth, we save ourselves.
I love this place… I really do. The ReBuilding Center is my family.