Andrew Carlson: Educating is his thing

Here's a fresh face you should get to know. It belongs to Andrew Carlson, new assistant manager at the Clark County Habitat for Humanity Store. Raised in NE Portland, Andrew attended Grant High School, and later graduated from Portland State where he studied history and social sciences with the intent of becoming a teacher. While at PSU, Andrew began working at Panera Bread - and served as assistant manager then general manager of Panera Cares, a non-profit cafe.

"People would come in and leave what they were able to in order to get a meal," Andrew said. "We treated everybody with dignity, and it was really a way to educate the community about hunger awareness and food insecurity."

That's where Andrew discovered he didn't need to be teaching in a classroom in order to educate.

On the job going on three weeks now, Andrew really appreciates what our volunteers contribute to The ReStore.

"We have great volunteers. I know people say it all the time, but we couldn't operate without the volunteers," he explained. "That's one thing I noticed on day one: They do so much for us to help us to make the day go smoothly, that we can't take them for granted."

A large portion of Andrew's job duties center on volunteer engagement. So what is it that makes a great volunteer?

"I think the willingness to learn-not only the job, but from one another," Andrew explained. "I think we all have something we can offer each other skill-wise, and so having a volunteer that's ready to learn, ready to go, ready to be inspired, ready to inspire others, highly motivated, excitable. Obviously, staying on task is important, but also being enthusiastic about being here."

Andrew and wife, April, married two years ago and now live in Tigard with a bit of a menagerie:

  • Golden Retriever named Kona ("She's a dork!")
  • Cats Riley and Huck ("Scaredy cats!")
  • A painted turtle named Margarita (lives in a tub with a rock)
  • Basil the "funny bunny"

Andrew and April listen to traditional country music and independent bands, and like to spend time outdoors, with their families, and traveling. Besides local haunts like Mount Hood and the coastal range, so far they've hit Yellowstone; Disneyland California; the San Juan Islands; Victoria, BC; Hawaii and Mexico-where they immersed themselves snorkeling in the cenotes (underground caves) of the Yucatán Peninsula. They hope to explore Italy and Scotland someday ("Golfing is one of my favorite things-the home of golf is Scotland.")

Andrew's local travel picks:

Breakfast at Seasons and Regions (Get there early.)
Draper Girls Country Farm U-Pick on Mt. Hood (Peaches now, Honey crisp apples later!)

Andrew's words to live by: "I wish people would take the time to enjoy themselves in life and not feel so frantic all the time. Relax a little. We've lost people due to illness and that has made us appreciate things a little. You never know what's going to happen."

Next time you travel to the Clark County HFH Store, tap Andrew on the shoulder and give him a warm welcome. He'll be glad to meet you.

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