Providing homeless people with a place to live is a huge step on the road to helping them rebuild their lives, but once they’ve moved in they need to fill their new place with the necessities that make it livable and comfortable.
Boston based organization Furnishing Hope is working to meet those needs by providing used furniture to people moving from shelters to permanent housing, and on Nov. 15 they held an open house at their Mount Auburn location. The event was well attended by donors, organization partners, and those curious about the charity’s work.
The office is decorated with photos of the families who’ve received help, showing off their homes filled with new furniture. In the back, Furnishing Hope has a small “storefront” filled with home essentials such as dishware, toiletries, and toys. Also on display were “starter sets,” which are red bags filled with bedding, kitchen supplies, and other things people need to get started.
Founder Suzy Palitz says that while there are a number of organizations that work to provide housing, Furnishing Hope’s mission is to fulfill needs that are often overlooked.
“I found out, around 2009, that they were these families that were falling through the cracks when they got housing, that they would end up housed but with nothing really, and they’d be living that way for months or years at a time,” said Palitz. “Furnishing Hope was founded to help these people.”
Furnishing Hope believes that families can be affected by their home environment, and a furnished home can help nurture a feeling of dignity, comfort, and stability.
This mission to give agency to its clients is evident throughout the donation process. Clients who are provided housing through partner organizations are given access to a website where they can pick and choose the furniture they need. The website, similar to that of other online marketplaces such as Amazon or Ikea, is filled with images of dressers, bed frames and mattresses, and other housing essentials. Clients choose their furniture, and it is delivered to their homes by partner Humboldt Movers.
Members from other organizations also attended the open house to show their appreciation for Furnishing Hope. Ashley Cruz, a case manager from Housing Families located in Malden, said Furnishing Hope provides an important service. “[Furnishing Hope] is such a great resource because a lot of our clients can’t afford moving trucks, and they provide that service for free,” said Cruz. “So that’s basically one huge thing that sets them apart from other referrals that we typically do.”
Donors are able to help the organization either through financial contributions or furniture, which can be picked up for free if donors donate 5 items or more.
“This model is great,” said Operation Manager Rosemary McCrudden. “Because it’s free for the families and it’s free to the donors, which means we get really good furniture.”
McCrudden, who also goes on deliveries, gets to personally see the impact their service has on families.
“The best is when the kids are home,” McCrudden said. “We had some Star Wars toys for a kid, and he showed me he had arranged them on a bedside table that we had also provided for him.”If you’d like to contribute to Furnishing Hope, donations of furniture can be arranged through their website at furnishinghope.org. Donors can also give cash, gift cards, home essentials such as towels, toiletries and cooking supplies, or they can sponsor a family.