Sometimes the Solution is So Simple: A Reflection by Mark Proft
Newly housed clients have a need to furnish their homes once they are settled, and most homeowners freely admit that they accumulate too much stuff over the years. It seems so logical; just put the two together and the problem will be solved. Well, those were our initial thoughts when St. John’s Episcopal Church volunteered to help Journey Home furnish apartments for a series of clients. With the first email we sent to the members of the church, we received more than enough responses in the first 24 hours to furnish the first apartment. And over the past four months we have continually received calls from parishioners, their friends, and neighbors, who just heard about our work; all offering to donate furniture if we could just come pick it up.
Therein lies the challenge; the logistics. Moving sofas and dressers down one or two flights of stairs, finding a truck large enough to hold an apartment full of furniture, finding volunteers who are available to work on weekdays when the social workers are available. All of these obstacles had to be overcome to make this effort successful.
St. John’s volunteered to help a few clients/families because we felt we had just the right resources to solve these problems. Parishioners donated all manner of furniture and kitchenware and then told their friends about the need. The problem soon became that there were more donations than we could deliver. Journey Home helped by providing some storage areas, and these filled up quickly. The church also offered a garage and this too filled rapidly. We found a few strong backs to do the heavy lifting, and then the community service group donated the funds needed to rent some trucks. With these problems solved, we are thankful we have been able to furnish apartments for four homeless individuals and we hope to do many more. But the more important learning from this project is that any group could accomplish the same with a little effort and minimal expense.