Hector Torres projects a keen eye for design. During the 1980’s, he worked in retail creating merchandise displays for large stores in California. After his job of 16 years at JCPenney was eliminated, he moved across country to Tampa to be closer to his family. He now lives in St. Petersburg and volunteers his talent and time five days a week at the local Suncoast Hospice Resale Shop.
“I merchandise the floor. I stage the mannequins, racks and the furniture section. It’s very rewarding,” Torres noted.
Like many retirees, Torres wanted to stay active and do something meaningful. He became a volunteer for thrift stores supporting nonprofits in the community, and eventually was recruited to our Resale Shop.
“I found it difficult to do nothing, so I started part time with CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse), which helps victims of domestic violence. I immediately liked that volunteer work, which evolved into full-time. Then I volunteered for Daystar Life Center, which helps the homeless. They lost their lease and were going to close their store. Their former store manager started volunteering here and he told the store manager here at the time about me. I did a one-hour meeting with her and that’s how I got started,” he explained.
Motivating Workplace, Service and Mission
Torres is well-matched as a Resale Shop volunteer.
“I have been really fortunate. When I got here, the fit was perfect. It gives a structure to my day and it allows me to continue to be creative. We run the store like a boutique. We take care of it and make sure that it is presentable for the customers,” he expressed.
He thrives in the encouraging and collaborative environment.
“It was terrific working for the former manager before she retired. I have a great working relationship with the new manager, Cindy Peightel. She is very visual-oriented and we work together quite well. When she has an idea for an improvement in the store, we will talk about it and she gives me the freedom to experiment with ideas on how to do the projects,” he said.
Positive customer feedback brings him satisfaction.
“Customers have been very receptive to the way that I present the merchandise in the store. It’s very rewarding to hear that from your customers, your number one target,” he said.
Volunteering with others for a common cause inspires him.
Torres added, “They are friendly and committed to coming in, lending a hand and doing whatever needs to be done to keep the store running. That’s very commendable. I feel like I’m part of something good. I feel like I’m part of a group and a family, with everybody aiming for the same goal, to make the store and Suncoast Hospice prosper. A hospice in Tampa stepped in and helped my mother in her last month here on this Earth and our family. It was a great help for us. It was a very difficult situation.”
Born to Create
Torres was born in Puerto Rico and lived in his hometown, San German. He grew up following his passions for art, architecture and interior design.
“I did all of my schooling through high school in PR (Puerto Rico). I went to art school in New York. I’ve loved architecture since I was a kid. I didn’t pursue it. I have an artistic side but I hate math. The main things I like now are to draw and do floor plans on my computer. I love to help a friend or family member who needs help with interior design. I love to take on the challenge,” he shared.
Two years ago for his 60th birthday, Torres took a life-changing trip dedicated to one of his idols.
“I have been a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and followed his work since I was a kid. The highlight of my life was when I went with my sister and visited his house. It was great to see one of his buildings in person. It was fantastic. I was in heaven,” he said.
Calling More Resale Shop Volunteers!
Our Suncoast Hospice Resale Shops in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Countryside are open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., year-round. Tremendous volunteer support is needed at the stores, including cashiers, display designers, backdoor greeters, merchandise sorters/pricers/organizers and more.