Grants enhance local Furniture Bank’s mission

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published April 4, 2016

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METRO DETROIT —Since 1968, the Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan has provided furniture for local needy families in Macomb and Oakland counties.

The nonprofit organization, headquartered at 333 N. Perry St. in Pontiac, is now expanding its service to families in Wayne County.

The Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan recently received a $50,000 grant from the United Way for Southeastern Michigan and another $50,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to reach more families. The charitable group also welcomes corporate, individual and local support.

The Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan collects gently used beds, dressers, sofas and dining sets from the general public. After receiving the donations, Furniture Bank representatives then provide beds and other furniture to individuals and families in need. Some families have suffered loss because of a fire or life crisis; some are transitioning from being homeless. Other families are experiencing financial distress and just need some extra help.

“With those (grant) dollars, we were able to get more warehousing space and obtained a second truck,” Furniture Bank Executive Director Robert Boyle said. “We now have the capacity to collect more furniture so we can help more families. We are now able to pick up in the Grosse Pointes, as well as Harper Woods, Canton, Plymouth and Livonia.”

The new route also can pick up furniture in the Detroit communities of Indian Village, Palmer Woods and Sherwood Forest. The Furniture Bank offers a free pickup service with a truck coming right to the donor’s home to collect the items as long as the items are in the garage, on the front porch or in the driveway.

The Furniture Bank will charge $20 per family if members have to come inside the home to pick up the donated items. While there picking up the furniture, the Furniture Bank will also take smaller items including coffee tables, end tables, nightstands, linens, lamps, pots, dishes and silverware.

According to organizers, the new funding and expanded programming will provide furniture and delivery services to at least 315 families over a three-year period in conjunction with Southwest Counseling Solutions, a Detroit-based nonprofit that places homeless families and individuals into permanent housing. Seventy-five percent of the households served have an annual income of $10,000 or less.

Boyle, a Grosse Pointe Woods resident, said there are 120 Furniture Bank franchises in North America. The Pontiac-based group works with 70 local health and human service agencies who refer families in need of the furniture.

“We’re trying to do good work,” Boyle said. “There’s a very compelling need for what we do. Unless we have the donations, we can’t help more families.”

Patricia Rush recently received a new couch, loveseat and bed from the organization. At press time, she was awaiting two recliner chairs. The previous furniture she had became so worn that it was hanging to the ground, and family members had to help each other out of it.

“My furniture was so low. We were sitting on the floor. I had it for so long,” the 58-year-old Pontiac resident said.

When Rush found out about the Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan from someone at her church, she filled out the necessary paperwork to apply for furniture. Someone with a truck helped her bring the furniture home.

“I just needed furniture,” she said. “The organization helped me very much. I’m very, very satisfied. I am very happy with the furniture. I appreciate it very much.”

The agency finds families to help via referrals, and those applying for furniture fill out paperwork. Last year, the organization provided furniture to 1,454 families and delivered furniture to 283 of these families. Typically, it takes less than three weeks for families to get the items they need.

“Paperwork is almost always filled out and sent over by our mission partners,” Boyle said.

All donations are tax-deductible, and donors receive receipt when the furniture is picked up. To schedule a pickup or for more information, call (248) 332-1300 or visit www.furniture-bank.org.

The nonprofit group will hold a wine-tasting fundraiser from 7 to 10 p.m. May 7 at the Guardian Building, 500 Griswold St. in Detroit. Check the website for further details.

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