The Rustic Home Furniture & Décor shop on Eglin Parkway benefits the Project Hope inpatient rehab program.

FORT WALTON BEACH — “I just can’t wait for this store to be open!” sighed Zack Lisser last Friday, as sweat beaded on his brow.

Lisser, along with 25 other men, has been working hard for more than a month in order to open The Rustic Home Furniture & Décor shop on Eglin Parkway. The men will be helping to run the store as part of a year-long rehabilitation program through Project Hope.

“Project Hope is a 12-month inpatient rehab program and people with no insurance and no income can come,” said Rourk “Rico” Dymond, Project Hope’s Florida Program Director. “We take individuals for free, but obviously it costs money to run a rehab center, so this (furniture store) is one of the ways we generate funds to run Project Hope, and hopefully additional funds will help us start a women’s home as well.”

Dymond explained that Project Hope took over the Waterfront Mission building on Hollywood Boulevard last July, and has since grown to house 25 long-term residents in the program, which helps men overcome substance abuse, depression and anxiety. The faith-based nonprofit has now partnered with The Rustic Furniture Depot in Dallas, Texas, to purchase brand new, shabby-chic-style furniture for the store.

“We will run it just like a normal furniture store and we will purchase our inventory and go from there,” Dymond said. “We will also be selling décor, which the men in the program make. It’s all made from 100-percent wood and once a month we will do a local artist feature in here as well.”

For now, the men are excited to get the store up and running and are eager to learn all the ins and outs of running a business.

“Another aspect of the store is vocational training for the guys, teaching them work ethic and skills, as well as getting them prepared for once they leave the program to have a job,” Dymond said. “All the work they do in the store pays for their program.”