Charity Spotlight: This post was provided by Noah Kravitz, Communications and Fundraising Coordinator at Furniture Bank, as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.
We are often asked by people who haven’t heard about Furniture Bank:
- What is a Furniture Bank?
- Why do Furniture Banks matter?
- How does a Furniture Bank really impact people?
- What real difference does furniture make in a person’s life?
We were fortunate enough to have one of our amazing volunteers capture their experience helping a client, showing just how important furniture is in someone’s life.
A Furniture Bank Volunteer Story
My last client of the morning this week truly touched my heart. I called out her name and she came across the reception area. In her early twenties, she had short cropped hair, eyes that sparkled behind her glasses, and a beautiful smile.
She was carrying a bag that contained all her possessions. She was quite open about the fact that she had been homeless for a year and a half and had nothing in her new home. The keys had been in her possession for a week but since she had no possessions she was not yet living there. She placed her bag on the chair and off we went “to shop”.
This client was in a wheelchair and had very limited use of her hands and fingers. She used her mouth to perform many tasks like picking up objects. We were not only searching for furniture that would make her home liveable, we were searching for furniture that would allow her to live independently in her own home.
There were very few things on her wish list. The first was a bed. Unfortunately, we did not have any double mattress/box spring combinations on the floor and she reluctantly said, “Well, I guess I’ll take a single”.
Don, our guardian angel of the morning, overheard the conversation and saw this young woman and told her, “No, don’t you ever settle. If you want something you ask.” And, as only Don can, he found her a double mattress, box spring and bed frame.
Elated, we went off to the dresser area.
She spotted a low bookshelf which she felt would serve her needs; the open shelves were easier to manage than heavy dresser drawers. In the living area we found a loveseat and a lamp. In housewares we found some plastic cups, two pots, and cutlery with plastic handles that was easier to move with her mouth.
“I have a little money,” she said, “and I think I would like to buy brand new dishes.” But she did agree to choose two pretty cups with saucers.
This woman had been on the streets for a year a year and a half – sometimes she stayed in a shelter but usually she was outside on her own. Finding housing is so difficult for so many people, but it’s even harder for those who need it to be wheelchair accessible.
She selected a loveseat. “Not because I’ll ever be able to sit in it,” she said. ”Maybe, someday I’ll have a friend who will want to come over and watch a movie.”
Over and over again she expressed how surprised she was that she had so many choices. She never knew that the Furniture Bank would have lamps or decorative items. But, as she also repeated, she had been so long without a place, she didn’t want to take too many things until she was sure she wanted them.
She is the reason that the Furniture Bank exists. She is the reason why volunteers give their time.
About Furniture Bank
This amazing story is just one example of the tens of thousands of individuals and families the Furniture Bank has supported over the last 16 years.
Furniture Bank helps restore hope, dignity and stability in the Greater Toronto Area by redistributing gently-used, donated furniture to people across the region in need. We have thousands of families, furniture store partners and local community groups actively donating a steady source of furniture which would otherwise end up in the dump or sold at a loss. We serve people who have recently transitioned out of homelessness, women and children escaping abusive situations, refugees and new comers to Canada, all of whom are trying to rebuild their lives in our community.
In the process we help turn an empty space into a true home with a kitchen table to enjoy meals, a comfortable space to share stories and beds for safe sweet dreams.