Judy Hawthorne's 94-year-old father had "incredible mobility issues," she said, before she found some affordable home health equipment to ease those challenges.

The items were located at ReStore Health & Home in Davenport. The facility was founded three years ago by Habitat ReStore, a program that recycles and sells building materials to benefit the work of Habitat for Humanity Quad-Cities to provide affordable housing.

Hawthorne is a former nurse who volunteers weekly at ReStore. She explained that her parents, Justin and Evelyn Edge, moved to Davenport in December from their former home in Lacon, Ill.

The Edges now live at Heritage Court in Davenport, an accessible facility not too far from the Hawthorne home. 

"We got Dad a scooter" at ReStore, Hawthorne said, as well as a "transport chair." That gives Hawthorne peace of mind, knowing the elderly couple can more easily attend activities at Heritage Court.

"It's much easier with the system we have in place," she said. "And my folks, they don't feel so restricted."

The mission evolves

ReStore Health & Home takes in new and gently used home health care and medical equipment. The venture has been very well-received in the Quad-Cities.

"People see a purpose in the store, and the items are in demand," said Cindy Kuhn, the director of Habitat ReStore. 

The location is 3629 Mississippi Ave., adjacent to the Habitat Restore operation.

Store fills a need

Kuhn has other retired nurses like Hawthorne among the staff at Habitat ReStore. It was about four years ago when staffers noticed the items being collected at ReStore included a hospital bed, a walker and a wheelchair.

But where could such items be sold?

Beth Laureijs, now the manager of ReStore Health & Home, did some market research on the possibility of setting up a resale shop for the specialized equipment.

She touched base with potential donors and also looked around to see whether anyone else was doing the same thing in the Quad-Cities.

Finding nothing filling that distinct niche, Kuhn said a decision was made to renovate the underutilized space next to the Habitat Restore operation.

Habitat ReStore was established in 2002 to take in building supplies and home improvement items. It aims to divert usable materials from the waste stream and uses the profits to support Habitat's affordable housing mission in the Quad-Cities.

Habitat had evolved to include furniture and appliances in 2010. But home health items didn't seem to fit established areas of the ReStore operation.

"We thought we could be a go-to place for this special equipment, and if we did it well, we could be a resource for the community," Kuhn said.

It took six months to set things up, and the doors opened in January 2012.

Get tips on free stuff and fun ideas delivered weekly to your inbox

Retired nurse advises clients

The store is widely stocked today with hundreds of items that are cleaned and repaired, if necessary.

The goods include safety equipment, Laureijs said, for use in a shower or bathroom, as well as lift chairs. The stock even extends to nutritional supplements for tube feedings.

"We make sure the items are clean and are in good working order," Laureijs said, and the staff watches expiration dates on packaged products like the supplements.

Customers, she said, tend to be older people, but they also include those of any age who have had an injury.

"People come in and they may not know just what they need. They may be in a crisis for the first time," Laurenjis explained.

That is when the nursing training kicks in, and she and the other retired nurses on the staff can help walk people through the situations they are facing or may encounter. 

"We get the right equipment to the right people," she said.

Some insurance policies do not cover purchases of the special equipment, and that also helps to drive the need. Individuals may come in with long lists of items if a loved one has a serious injury or illness.

"Very often we can supply all they need," Kuhn said.

"We knew this could take off if it was done well. That's what we are constantly trying to do," Laurenjis added.