She Is Restor’d – Shani’s Story
The first thing you notice about Shani is her smile. It is wide, warm & generous, a lot like the hug that immediately envelops you when you step into her shop, ‘Restor’d’. Against the backdrop of plush couches, warm timber cabinets, vintage lamps & glassware, Shani Smith has a way of making you feel like you’ve come home.
‘Homemaker’ is not a title that every woman is comfortable with but, in Shani Smith’s case, it is a perfect fit. Whether it is creating a nurturing home base for her six daughters, two sons-in-law & two grandchildren, pioneering an up-cycled furniture & homewares social enterprise or visiting the numerous children’s homes, both local & international, that she & her family support, she is a homemaker in the most beautiful & powerful way.
Family has always been the focus of Shani’s life. Married for more than 25 years, she & her husband, Rick, are the proud parents of six daughters and have been foster parents for the last 10 years. This coupled with the challenges of running a demanding building & property development company, means that their hands are well & truly full. By 2011, Shani’s life was at capacity, or so she thought. In January 2011, she travelled to Uganda to help build a school for orphans. When she visited the home of four-year-old Lydia, one of the children she & her family sponsor, the contrast between the home that her children & grandchildren enjoy in Australia & the one room, mud brick dwelling where Lydia, her mother & her brother live, was stark & compelling. It was on the return flight to Australia that the vision for Restor’d was born.
A love for building and decorating, creating beauty out of odds and ends and making a house a home had been her passion for more than 20 years. What if there was a way of aligning that passion with an even greater purpose? What if the restoration of furniture could actually lead to the restoration of lives & families? ‘Restor’d’ opened its doors in November 2014 &, since opening, they have not only donated thousands of dollars to their partner orphanages but have given a new lease of life to hundreds of discarded or unwanted items of furniture & homewares. What Shani hadn’t counted on was just how enthusiastically the local community would embrace the vision & ethos behind ‘Restor’d’.
“People from all walks of life have come into the store &, whether they are here to donate or purchase, they consistently remark about the atmosphere of the store. They feel welcomed & at home. I have had customers come in for a five-minute browse who stay for an hour. They chat with us or sit on one of the couches & have a think for a while. While we’re restoring furniture, God is restoring them.
The success of this charitable venture has not come without a high degree of sacrifice; family time, personal finance & holidays have all been invested into turning the idea of ‘Restor’d’ into a vibrant & fulfilling reality.
“It takes hard work, time & commitment to bring a dream to life”, says Shani. “I have made peace with the fact that, to get this started, I have to be focused on what I am building rather than what I am missing. Above anything else, ‘Restor’d’ is God’s idea & we are counting on Him to take it where He wants it to go. Some people ask me whether we have misspelt the name of the store, ‘Restor’d’; why is there a gap between the last two letters? We spelt it that way to remind ourselves that, in all that we do, there will always be a gap that only God can fill. It’s true for the store & it’s true for each of us”.
If you would like to know more about the work of ‘Restor’d’, please visit their website at www.restord.org.au
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.