Volunteer spotlight: Wernet loves finding hidden treasures at Destin's Harvest House

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Editor's note: For the next several weeks, The Destin Log will be highlighting in the Saturday editions people in our community that voluntarily offer themselves for service around town.

For Delores Wernet who volunteers at the Harvest House in Destin it's about commitment and the excitement of finding hidden treasures.

Wernet has served at the Harvest House, which is a faith based food pantry and thrift store in Destin for more than 30 years, since January 2017. 

More:Harvest House staff, volunteers give back

"When I decided to volunteer, I looked at it as my responsibility. If you're going to volunteer you need to commit to it, " said Wernet who is a retired 30-year banker.

Harvest House volunteer Delores Wernet checks in and prices donated jewelry at the thrift store.

Plus she wanted it to be for a worthy cause and Wernet liked the idea that Harvest House was a faith based organization.

"It was easy to go there ... everybody was welcoming and appreciative of the efforts," Wernet said.

And she has fit right in at the Harvest House.

More:Harvest House looks to alleviate pressure during holidays

"Delores is an amazing woman that will brighten up a room and she has the heart to serve," said Lori Joyner, executive director of Harvest House.

"She has been faithful to her weekly volunteer day. Even during these challenging times, she found a way to continue to volunteer. I am grateful and blessed to call her my friend," Joyner said.

More:Overdue Destin library books help feed the hungry

Not knowing what she'd be doing when she walked through the doors 3 1/2 years ago, she was assigned to jewelry. So on Tuesday's, she comes in and goes through the donated jewelry, sorts, tags and prices it and gets it ready for display.

"I always say my mother and sister were the jewelry people ... I just would have never thought of all the things I would do, I would be handling jewelry," Wernet said.

But she has embraced the task and loves finding the hidden treasures.

Harvest House volunteer Delores Wernet checks in and prices donated jewelry at the thrift store.

As a matter of fact, Wernet recalls her first big discovery. 

She hadn't been working at the Harvest House very long when a pair of earrings and pendant caught her eye. 

"You can't always go by looks, but it was a gut feeling," she said.

She had a friend who worked at jewelry store and had her look at the pieces. The friend said the pendant would probably retail for about $700 and the earrings around $300-$400.

"It was very nice jewelry," Wernet said.

Since then she has found diamond rings and numerous gold pieces.

"It's always such a thrill for me to find the really good pieces," Wernet said, noting they can be sold for a decent amount of money which in the end, benefits the Harvest House.

But all jewelry is welcomed at the house.

"They really do try to utilize everything," Wernet said. 

She explained that she takes the broken jewelry and put's it in a bag and then it is sold in the craft section of the house.

"And it sells, it's amazing," she said.

Although Wernet is the "girl Tuesday" sort of speak, things have changed since the pandemic.

Instead of working at the Harvest House, she now comes in and picks up the jewelry and takes it home to sort, tag, price and then brings it back.

"Right now we're not getting a whole lot," she said, noting it may take her only three hours to process. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Wernet said she sometimes spent an entire day working through the jewelry. But on those days when she got caught up, she sometimes helped in the pantry bagging up food items.

"I really felt like I was helping," she said.

In addition to volunteering at the Harvest House, Wernet volunteers at First United Methodist in Fort Walton Beach where she and her husband attend.

"I'm always looking for something else, but I don't want to just go do, I want it to be something," Wernet said.