When I started the non-profit After the Curb I never thought that one day I would be working as the Managing Director of Barrie’s first Furniture Bank. In fact, I didn’t even know what a “Furniture Bank” was. I had also never heard of Redwood Park Communities. I just wanted to solve what seemed to be a very solvable problem: my neighbours’ curb-side furniture was getting destroyed in the rain and snow while people entering housing for the first time or after a period of homelessness were starting out with nothing.
So, a few enthusiastic board members and I built a website and a Facebook page, bought a truck and a trailer, reached out to some community programs to find people most in need, organized some volunteers, and together we started collecting and delivering furniture. It’s no coincidence that our first delivery was to Redwood in response to a post they made about needing beds for a housing project. Three years later (almost to the date) here we are.
The work we are doing at Furniture Bank powered by Redwood to address the issue of furniture poverty is so important. If you’re wondering what furniture poverty is, imagine coming “home” to make dinner without pots and pans to cook in, or plates and a table to eat off of. Imagine finally finding an apartment to raise your family in after leaving an abusive situation, then being told you can’t get your children back until you have beds for them to sleep on.
I know how hard it is to work all day, then try to do homework without a desk to work at or couch to sit on because I experienced it myself, a decade ago when I got my first place after a summer of homelessness and couch surfing. It doesn’t just “suck”, it’s not just “hard”, for some people it’s the thing that breaks them. But having a hopeful home can also be the thing that helps make a life.
At the Furniture Bank, we’re working hard to close the gap in furniture poverty. When people have furniture, they can raise healthy, happy children. When people have furniture, they can pursue a meaningful life and contribute to their community. When people have furniture, they can recover from mental and physical illness, trauma and abuse. But these aren’t just “people”, they’re our neighbours, and strong, healthy neighbours build strong healthy communities. That’s our vision. To provide our most vulnerable neighbours with safe, affordable, hopeful homes.
I am very excited to invite all of you to be a part of this amazing team and our exciting work!
Do what you can.
We all have something to contribute and together we can build a strong, resilient, hopeful community.