The Estelle family received  three beds, a sofa and a dining set  from the Furniture Bank of  Southeastern Michigan.

The Estelle family received three beds, a sofa and a dining set from the Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan.

Photo provided by the Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan


Comedy night to help families furnish homes

By: K. Michelle Moran | Metro | Published October 27, 2021

 Khamille is one of the more than 600 local children who have received a bed with new bedding from the Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan  so far this year.

Khamille is one of the more than 600 local children who have received a bed with new bedding from the Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan so far this year.

Photo provided by the Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan

METRO DETROIT — A night of laughter is going to help address a serious problem in metro Detroit.

Rocky LaPorte, a finalist on Season Eight of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” will be performing Nov. 4 at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak to raise money for the nonprofit Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan. The comedy night is one of the biggest annual fundraisers for the Furniture Bank, which has seen the need for basic home furnishings double due to the eviction moratorium expiration and recent catastrophic floods. Based in Pontiac but serving most of metro Detroit, the Furniture Bank provides families in need with beds and other essential furnishings, such as kitchen tables and chairs.

“Within the last month, we’ve really seen the volume of referrals spike,” said Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan Executive Director Rob Boyle, of Grosse Pointe Woods.

When people without financial resources are evicted, Boyle said, they can’t afford to hire a mover to collect their furniture and relocate it. They can only take what they can carry with them or fit inside a vehicle, assuming they have access to a vehicle.

“They have to start from scratch,” Boyle said.

While many residents use their basements for storage or extra space to entertain, exercise or create a home office, for some families, a basement is home, whether it’s a basement apartment or the basement of a friend or relative.

“There are a lot of families that lost much, if not everything, that they own due to the floods,” Boyle said. “We are finding that there are a lot of people that need help.”

Besides flooding and the end of the eviction moratorium, Boyle said the resettlement of Afghan refugees in metro Detroit has created an increased need, of late.

In 2020, the Furniture Bank served almost 7,000 people, more than half of them children. Of its recipients, 69% have annual household incomes of $10,000 or less, and 90% have household incomes under $20,000. Since its founding more than 50 years ago, the Furniture Bank has provided more than 75,000 local families with furniture and beds.

Sharp increases in the cost of vehicles, gas and labor have made the work of the Furniture Bank more challenging, as the organization needs to operate a fleet of moving trucks with licensed and bonded professional movers. Boyle anticipates their trucking costs going up 20% this year.

For those who have furniture they no longer need, the Furniture Bank can accept donations of the following items, as long as they’re in good shape: mattresses, box springs, sofas/loveseats (excluding sofa beds and recliners), dressers, dining/kitchen tables (excluding marble or heavy glass), dining/kitchen chairs in sets of at least two, living room chairs, coffee tables, end tables, nightstands, and up to five bags of small items such as lamps, pots, pans, bedding, towels and silverware. Items will be picked up for free from the front porch or garage; for $50, the Furniture Bank will remove any combination of these items from inside the home.

The Furniture Bank will also now pick up nonessential items from homes at a cost of $75 to $100, with the proceeds benefiting the organization’s services. These items include exercise equipment, china cabinets, desks, bookshelves and entertainment centers.

Financial donations are also always welcome.

“The financial contributions allow us to pick up the in-kind contributions and get families into a stable, dignified home,” Boyle said.

A favorite among metro Detroiters, LaPorte, of Chicago, has appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Comedy Central Presents,” where a nationwide poll found he was one of the network’s most popular comedians. Boyle said LaPorte was a hit at a previous Furniture Bank fundraiser.

“He’s a remarkably funny guy,” Boyle said. “The crowd loved him, and we’re thrilled to have him.”

LaPorte is happy to return.

“I love coming to Detroit,” LaPorte said. “They treat you like family.”

He said he does about a dozen fundraisers a year.

“I love doing fundraisers,” LaPorte said. “It does me as much good as the people that you’re helping. We’ve got to help each other.”

LaPorte’s comedic material is drawn from everyday life and family.

“I don’t talk about COVID or politics,” he said. “You’re bombarded by that on the news. You’ve got to have a good, healthy distraction. Laughter does that. It’s a great release.”

The comedy night, which runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 4, will include a full buffet dinner, 50/50 raffle and live auction. Tickets cost $75 per person. Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle is located at 310 S. Troy St. in Royal Oak. For tickets or more information, call the Furniture Bank at (248) 332-1300, ext. 206, or email events@furniture-bank.org.

For more about furniture or financial donations, call the Furniture Bank or visit www.furniture-bank.org.