O’Neil’s efforts raise funds for Habitat

Published 6:07 pm Wednesday, June 24, 2009

By By Lydia Grimes
features reporter

Jack O’Neil is spending time away from his normal job to get a new store started that is helping people all over the area.
ReStore, a retail store that is part of Habitat for Humanity, opened a few months ago at 1658 Douglas Avenue, with O’Neil as the manager.
ReStore in Brewton joins a list of other ReStores that have been established to provide low income families with needed building materials and household furnishings. The stores are open to the public, both for sale and for donations.
According to their brochure, ReStore is a new way of recycling and raising money for operational expenses for Escambia County Habitat for Humanity. It provides people with an opportunity to purchase quality, new or gently used items. Donations from home supply stores and other retailers, leftovers from remodeling projects or house demolitions, and general donations from residents are accepted and then resold to the public.
All donations are screened for suitability by O’Neil. He and his fellow workers accept windows, doors, appliances, cabinets, lighting fixtures, plumbing items, sinks, counters, flooring, carpet, lumber, furniture, tables, chairs, bookcases, dressers, beds, lamps, home furnishing items and much more. (No clothing or electronics are accepted.) They ask that all items be in good condition and in working order. Any donations are eligible for a tax-deduction.
ReStore’s mission is to provide additional funding to support Habitat’s building goals, to expand opportunities to serve a broader base of the low-income community by providing low-cost materials, and to divert construction and household materials from the landfills to protect the environment. They also support the Escambia County Habitat home construction. All sales of new and used building supplies and home furnishing items help the local  Habitat continue its mission of eliminating poverty housing in Escambia County.
Right now the store is operating and still building the inventory to be able to supply more needed items. They have several furniture items, sinks, doors, windows, and appliances, such as stove tops, dishwashers and ovens. They also have a good supply of wood flooring. With the ReStore truck they are able to pick up the larger donated items.
O’Neil became affiliated with Habitat long before the new store opened. He had heard Alicia Glaize, Habitat director, talk about the organization at First Presbyterian Church.  He became interested and his first house was on Conoley Street, several years ago. He also served on the Habitat board for two years and as the vice-president, last year.
There are some 500 ReStores around the United States and 15 in Alabama.
O’Neil was born in Birmingham and raised in Tuscaloosa. He graduated from Tuscaloosa High School in 1963. He said he was an average student. He played baseball and had a paper route. He came from a family with three children. He attended the University of West Alabama in Livingston and majored in business administration. He went to work at the Goodrich Company and quit college to get married.
He was hired by Leon’s Casuals in Selma and went to work in Montgomey. He opened a store in Andalusia and then in Brewton. He became a partner while he was in Andalusia and was district manager over several stores until 1989. He left Leon’s in 1989 and opened his own store, O’Neil’s, in downtown Brewton, selling ladies apparel. He left the retail business in 1995 and became a sales representative over the southeast for the next 10 years.
He is now taking time from his business in consulting in order to get the ReStore established.
He is married to Becky Hart O’Neil. He has two sons, two daughters, and five grandchildren. His wife is a retired school teacher from Brewton Elementary School and is now a literacy specialist, working all over the state.