LINCOLN PARK — Rebuilding Exchange, a nonprofit dedicated to repurposing old building and construction materials, could close if it doesn’t raise $50,000 in donations, the organization’s founder said.
In a Tuesday morning email to customers and supporters, Elise Zelechowski, one of the organization’s founders, said the nonprofit needs to raise the donations by May 30 to keep the business open.
The nonprofit operates out of a Lincoln Park warehouse at 1740 W. Webster Ave.
“Now in its 10th year, Rebuilding Exchange has made a huge impact on the lives of Chicagoans,” Zelechowski wrote. “Diverting reusable materials from landfills, training and employing people who seek the dignity of work, and providing a welcoming, safe and dynamic space for everyone to learn, make and play.”
“But as a nonprofit social enterprise, we’ve been challenged by the ups and downs of running our operation day-to-day and are reaching out to our community now to ask for much needed support.”
Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Zelechowski said fewer people are coming into the warehouse to shop, which is hurting the organization financially.
“Like any business, we’re not immune to changes in consumer behaviors and what’s happening in the market,” she said.
Zelechowski pointed to a slower rate of renovations in the city as a whole and customers moving out of the neighborhood as two possible reasons for the drop in sales.
In the email, the founder said the organization does its best to balance its many goals — diverting materials from landfills, keeping prices affordable and providing jobs for “people with barriers to employment” — but “sometimes things fall out of balance and that is where we are today.”
Since it was founded in 2009, Rebuilding Exchange has become one of Chicago’s go-spots for unique building materials: barn wood from Michigan, porcelain sinks, doors from the late 1800s, you name it. The warehouse attracts home renovators, developers, film crews and everyone in between.
Zelechowski said Rebuilding Exchange is what it is today because of all the community partners who have supported the organization over the years.
Within just a few hours of sending the email Tuesday, the nonprofit had already raised about $4,000 toward its $50,000 goal — a testament to the strength of the Rebuilding Exchange community, according to Zelechowski.
“We’re really, really grateful,” she said.
Donations raised as part of the fundraising campaign will go toward paying the nonprofit’s operational expenses through the end of May “to get the organization stable once again.”
But Zelechowski noted there are many other ways to contribute.
In addition to selling building materials, the nonprofit also hosts an array of classes and workshops centered around repurposing reclaimed materials and runs a job training program.
“People can support us by giving individual contributions, but we’d also love people to choose Rebuilding Exchange materials instead of IKEA. They [can] take a workshop [and] think about getting something from RX Made [the nonprofit’s furniture brand] … ” she said.
To donate, visit the organization’s website.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.