Lake Norman & Mooresville

Habitat's ReStore is more than just a thrift

When you enter the new 24,000-square-foot Our Towns Habitat for Humanity ReStore on N.C. 150, in the old Staples building in Mooresville, you're looking at something more than just a thrift store.

You're looking at the product of a friendship between ReStores director Mary Converse Laney, known as M.C., and Mary Gibbs, the store manager. This friendship has lasted almost 20 years and started in Augusta, Ga.

At first, this friendship seemed unlikely to happen as each of them come from different parts of the country.

Laney, 59, is a Virginia native, and has a degree in education of the deaf from Converse College and she attended graduate school at the University of South Carolina. She is now a resident of The Woods neighborhood in Davidson. Gibbs, 57, is a Michigan native and has a degree in accounting. She lives in Taylorsville.

However, when these two met through their sons' involvement on a middle-school's crew team, neither could have guessed that they'd still be friends - almost two decades later - and working together to help the needy.

It wasn't until 1996, due to her husband's job transfer, that Laney moved to the area. Only six weeks after she moved, she suffered a devastating personal loss - the death of her granddaughter.

But it's through this tragedy that Laney found Habitat for Humanity in an effort to get out of the house and come to terms with her grief. She walked by the local Habitat for Humanity offices in Cornelius and she decided to heal by helping others.

After starting as a volunteer, Laney was hired as a volunteer coordinator. She eventually became the manager of the Habitat's ReStore in Cornelius, which led to her more recent position as the director of both Habitat's Cornelius and new Mooresville ReStores.

It's because of Laney's involvement with Habitat for Humanity, that Gibbs moved to the area. After four years, Gibbs was growing tired of her tedious office job in Augusta; she wanted to make a difference and help others. But she didn't know how.

Then she got a call from Laney encouraging her to take a job as an assistant store manager at Habitat for Humanity. That was seven years ago. Since then she has worked her way up to the position of ReStore manager at the Mooresville store.

"It's not work," said Gibbs. "I like knowing that I am helping someone less fortunate than myself."

And it is through Laney's and Gibbs's involvement, that their husbands started helping out. Eventually, Laney's husband, Terry, became the executive director, and Gibbs' husband can often be found volunteering on Habitat for Humanity projects.

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International and a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. The charity was founded in 1988 and has served 193 families in the Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville communities.