We Are Here Foundation donates furniture to GPPSS

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 29, 2021


GROSSE POINTE CITY/WOODS — As Grosse Pointe Public School System administrative staff members prepare to move to their new central offices this September, one local nonprofit organization is helping them with the process.

As part of the district’s $111,040,000 bond referendum, the administrative staff is relocating from its current Administration Building at 389 St. Clair Ave. in Grosse Pointe City to Grosse Pointe North High School at 707 Vernier Road in Grosse Pointe Woods.

The We Are Here Foundation, based in Mount Clemens, has donated a number of brand-new furniture pieces for the new central offices at North. The foundation donated approximately 20 Allsteel workstations and one conference room table 12 feet in length with 10 chairs. One of the district’s bond contractors contacted We Are Here Foundation representatives to make the donations possible.

“We knew we were in need for our new administrative office space at North High School,” GPPSS Deputy Superintendent for Business Operations Amanda Matheson said. “The furniture we currently have and the layout, it wouldn’t all fit. A lot of our furniture is older and really exceeded its use of life.”

The current furniture is bulky. The donated furniture is more modern and will fit with the layout of the new offices. Bond contractors measured the donated furniture to make sure it would fit in the new office space at North. With the new furniture, school officials won’t have to use general fund dollars, so the donations give the district a financial break.

“It frees up resources to be used in other areas,” Matheson said.

Once the new furniture is assembled and put in place, school officials will auction off the old furniture online. If the furniture is not bid on, the furniture will be disposed of.

The We Are Here Foundation is an all-volunteer organization that donates new school and office furniture to districts, churches and nonprofit organizations in southeastern Michigan. The American office retail company Staples is the foundation’s corporate partner and donates all the furniture to the We Are Here Foundation. The nonprofit organization then provides the donated desks, chairs, tables, whiteboards, filing cabinets and more. Many items are new and some are gently used.

“Staples donates to us,” We Are Here Foundation Founder and Manager Thomas Cleaver said. “We are all volunteers. We fulfill giant orders and small orders.”

The foundation’s primary source of income comes from donated boats. The nonprofit organization has a warehouse in St. Clair Shores where much but not all of the furniture is stored. Volunteers fix up the boats and then sell them. While the furniture is donated, money from the boat sales pays for moving expenses.

“We pay for the trucks and the movers,” Cleaver said. “No school ever pays a penny for anything. All we ask is if they can unload the truck.”

Last year, Cleaver said, the foundation received 25 donated boats.

“We picked the boats up and fixed them up,” Cleaver said. For instance, one boat totaled $5,000 in repairs and sold for $15,000, giving the organization a $10,000 profit.

The donated furniture for Grosse Pointe is currently in storage at a Staples location until it’s ready for use this September. Along with the GPPSS, the We Are Here Foundation also made a donation of furniture to Detroit Public Schools.

The We Are Here Foundation also provides funding for the annual Nautical Coast Clean Up, scheduled May 23 this year. For more information on the event, visit the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee website at www.scswec.org.

For more information on the We Are Here Foundation or to make a donation, call (586) 463-9400 or email Tom Cleaver at cleave@aol.com. The website address is www.weareherefoundation.org.