Building Blocks

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

If you’re thinking about remodeling your home or business or you have an old dwelling that needs to be torn down, give Building Blocks a call first.
The non-profit organization located in a warehouse on Cliff Gookin Boulevard specializes in reselling anything for a home that’s reusable, thanks to donations.
“We call ourselves an environmentally friendly building supply,” said manager Kaye Lyle, who has been with Building Blocks for four years. She estimates the prices at the warehouse are 50 to 80 percent cheaper than a traditional building supply store.
All the profits go to the Learning Skills Center, which provides basic skills remediation and tutoring assessments.
“Our mission is threefold,” Lyle said. “We provide funds for the school, we provide affordable building supplies and we keep things out of the landfill.”
A walk through Building Blocks reveals doors, windows, lighting, wall paneling, bricks, appliances, flooring, bathroom vanities, cabinets, toilets, sinks, tubs, molding, shelving, door knobs, floor tiles, mantles, plumbing supplies, ceiling fans and even a kitchen island.
“Everything here is donated,” Lyle said. “It comes from individuals, businesses, civic organizations and contractors. We have been able to meet a lot of our goals of providing support and supplies to the school.”
The Learning Skills Center was founded in 1992. It serves all children in Northeast Mississippi, and fees are based on a family’s income.
“I’ve tried to get contractors on homes before they’re torn down,” Lyle said. “One contractor said it’s a liability risk, but we go in at our own risk. We’re not going to sue anybody.”
Lyle said the contractor who worked on the CVS drugstore project at Crosstown was a dream.
“We went into Casa Monterrey and got the sunroom and a huge bar. Part of the bar is in Eli’s BBQ and the other part is in a private home. We took the sunroom down piece by piece and someone recently bought that. It takes longer to reuse something, but the time is so worth it, because it’s so much cheaper to do.”
Lyle said so far, they’ve had three individuals who have allowed Building Blocks crews into their homes before they were razed.
“We got molding, doors, windows, cabinets. We even took stone off one house. We can’t completely demolish a house, but we can gut it.”
Lyle said she thinks more people would work with Building Blocks if they knew their donation is tax deductible.
“The person determines the value after we give them a list of what we took out of the house,” she said.
Lyle figures they go into a home or business about twice a year on a salvage mission.
“But we get donations every day,” she added.
When the owners of Tupelo Lighting Center retired, they shared their inventory with three non-profits, including Building Blocks.
“That was a tremendous donation,” Lyle said.
She pointed out that sometimes, Building Blocks offers items homeowners can’t find at a typical home store.
“When we get molding out of older homes, then people who are redoing older houses can come and get molding to match theirs,” she said.
But the organization also helps people who are plain just down on their luck.
“There are people who come through here that you just wouldn’t believe,” Lyle said. “I had a green avocado bathtub. I almost refused it, but the people had gone to the trouble to donate it. I want you to know that $25 tub greatly improved a young girl’s life. She didn’t even have a tub to bathe in.”
Lyle said Building Blocks prefers that people bring items to be donated to the warehouse.
“We are limited on pick-up,” she said. “We don’t have a truck or a trailer, but if it’s a situation where they can’t make it here, we’ll find someone to let us borrow something.”
Lyle said she’s promoted Building Blocks through community events, civic events and neighborhood associations – anyone who will listen.
“People are really catching on,” she said. “They’re realizing we don’t live in a disposable world.”
If you have a home or business that’s about to be torn down, give Lyle a call at (662) 844-7327. If you have a donation to drop off, the warehouse is located behind the Learning Skills Center at 3725 Cliff Gookin Blvd., between Room to Room and Tupelo High School.
But don’t be looking for a big sign that announces the non-profit, because there isn’t one.
“I priced a sign and the cheapest one was $500,” Lyle said. “And that buys a whole lot of school supplies.”
ginna.parsons@journalinc.com

How To Help
BUILDING BLOCKS is located behind the Learning Skills Center at 3725 Cliff Gookin Blvd., between Room to Room and Tupelo High School. Call (662) 844-7327 for more information.