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Categories: Habitat Happenings, Habistore- Recent Updates, Volunteer, Faith, Habitat Tucson

From Toys to Tables: Frank’s Skilled Hands and Heart of Gold

Frank Pickett grew up making his own wooden toys; now, he volunteers at the HabiStore as a woodworker, fixing high-end used furniture for resale in support of Habitat for Humanity Tucson’s mission. 

“My father did some woodworking… When I was young, the neighbor boy and I used to make our own toys. We were relatively poor- we didn’t know it, but we were poor- and we didn’t have any money to spend. When we went to the grocery store, they would give us wooden crates that oranges came packed in. We would take the crates apart, straighten the nails, and that was our resource. We made swords, we made pistols to play cowboys, we made boats, et cetera,” Frank says. 

With a natural love of picking things apart and putting them together, Frank grew up to become an engineer. Originally from Iowa, he moved to Tucson for a career with Raytheon Technologies. In his retirement, Frank started volunteering with Desert Woodcrafters, a woodworking club in Tucson. One of his favorite yearly activities with Desert Woodcrafters is creating toys for disadvantaged children at Christmas time. “I made 600 last year,” Frank shares. 

At Desert Woodcrafters, he met Ken, who would become a close friend. A retired high school woodshop teacher, Ken volunteered in the woodshop at the HabiStore and invited Frank to come along. 

Now, Ken and Frank come in every Wednesday to large quantities of carefully arranged, used furniture that the HabiStore drivers leave in the woodshop for them. The HabiStore only accepts items for donation that are immediately re-sellable, but sometimes we accept wood-based items with slight defects that are repairable by our woodshop-men.  

“I think the HabiStore woodshop is kind of a well-kept secret,” Frank says. “I’ve worked here for a couple of years now. There are unique pieces that come in. Usually they are very old and somewhat fragile.” Frank moves through the woodshop, pointing out items like a chair with one of its casters broken and a shelf with a tear in its crown molding. The woodshop also sometimes gets boxes of un-assembled furniture; they work to assemble the item so it’s ready for sale.  

Frank’s repairs are skilled and thoughtful. He helps add impact to Habitat’s mission by increasing the resale value of furniture pieces through just the gift of his time.  

What motivates Frank to not only give his time, but come in consistently week after week? “The people that I work with. Some other volunteers that work out on the floor, we get lunch together after our shifts end.” Plus, he laughs, “I gotta have something to get me into heaven.” 

“If you’re going to volunteer for an organization, it has to be an organization that you believe in. You gotta feel that you’re doing something worthwhile. Now, this store pays for a lot of the houses and I care about housing. I think Habitat is a tremendously good organization. I think they’re the best around.” 

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