Apr 9, 2019

"Why can't I have a bed?"

At Community Warehouse, one of our most-requested items is a bed for a child.

Take a moment to think back to the time you were a child. Did you pay attention to how your parents/family provided your food, shelter, and everything else that was needed at a moment’s notice? Most of us take this for granted until we’re old enough to gain perspective.

Now think back to when you asked for something and were told no. Your first question was probably “Why?” Imagine if the things you wanted, instead of a toy or a trip or a treat, were the things you needed, like a bed. Every child is deserving of comfort in a safe space. We want to make sure parents never have to tell their children why they can’t have a bed.

Living with a scarcity of resources can make you question your sense of belonging. If you’re struggling to find affordable housing in your city, you might think: “I’m not doing as much as I should.” If you are having to choose between food and furniture for your family, you might feel inadequate. Understanding our value to our community is just as important as our physical need for food and shelter.

At Community Warehouse, we have the unique opportunity to not only provide essential furnishings, but also provide an experience that honors an individual’s value. Coming to our furniture bank gives families the opportunity to make choices about their own home. This provides dignity, relief, and hope for parents and children, so they can better care for one another.

As the only furniture bank in NW Oregon and SW Washington, we plan to assist 7,955 individuals this year, including 3,500 children, to turn their empty housing into homes. Together, we have everything we need to help one another. Your ability to empathize, give, and receive are the characteristics of those who contribute great value to their community. Because of your support, parents who come to Community Warehouse no longer need to explain to their child why they don’t have a bed. Your support brings dignity and hope to so many families.

Jan 10, 2019

A fire and a brighter future...

Dear Warehouse Friends,

Happy New Year! As we shift into 2019 (wow!), we thought we’d share a brief reflection.

2018 was an amazing year for your local furniture bank:

  • We served 7,662 people, including 3,457 children.
  • We redistributed 3,477 beds.
  • We kept over 600 tons of usable household goods out of the local waste stream.

As incredible as these statistics are, we believe that personal stories are the best way to share success. We’re humbled to pass along this story about a local family who came to the Warehouse this week.

Andy and Joe (twins, 9 years old) and Cameron (12 years old) live with their grandparents/guardians Linda and Don in Northeast Portland. All three boys play baseball and jujitsu. Their grandparents made the decision to transfer them to a new school district during winter break, a big change, and the brothers were getting ready to start school in a few days.

On December 30, 2018, the family’s home caught fire. 9-year-old Andy had to jump out of a second story window to escape. Their house and all articles in it were destroyed in the fire, including the grandparents’ eyeglasses and medications. Fortunately, none of the family members were seriously injured, but all were traumatized from the experience.

While recovering from the fire, the family managed to find a place to stay with the boys’ aunt, and were connected to a temporary residence that was vacant through a family friend. The home was not furnished. Linda, Don, and the kids were worried they would have to sleep on the floor until they could save up to buy furniture. Instead, a friend set up a “Go Fund Me” account to help replace their clothes and other belongings, and encouraged the family to get an appointment at Community Warehouse.

This week, Linda came to Community Warehouse with her case manager from Hollywood Senior Center and several family members in tow to help her pick out and move furnishings to the new home. Andy, Joe, and Cameron had just started their first day at their new school. Linda picked out mattresses and box springs for her and the kids, blankets, pillows, towels, sheets, pots and pans, utensils, dishes, tables, chairs, and so much more.

As her family helped fill the small Uhaul they brought, Linda got emotional. “Now, we are going to survive,” she said through teary eyes.

From all of us at Community Warehouse, thank you for your generosity during the holidays and beyond. Because of your support, thousands of families (like Linda’s) in our community can create safe, comfortable homes and envision a brighter future.

Warm regards,

Anna and the Warehouse crew

Oct 8, 2018

How Furniture Banks Support Students in Need

Child with Furniture on Truck
Child with Furniture on Truck

What do we imagine when we think of children getting ready for school on an autumn morning? Kids may cringe at the sound of the alarm clock, or perhaps leap up from bed with excitement, assailing their dresser for the perfect outfit. Big yellow busses roll along residential streets, stopping for passengers great and small, with backpacks in tow. Out at the schoolyard, awaiting the bell, children laugh and run as rust and honey colored leaves fall. The back-to-school novelty has faded into routine, and students begin to count the days until Thanksgiving, and then winter break.

But what if that wake-up alarm never goes off? Or there is no bed to leap out of? Imagine a child is sleeping on the floor, or on a relative’s couch while their family searches for stable housing after receiving a no-cause eviction. Is that child getting the rest they need to be alert and learning? Would they be excited to show off their clothes, if they were wrinkled with no dresser to hold them? For some children, a big Thanksgiving dinner or holiday gifts are far from certainties.

As of November 1, Community Warehouse has served over 2,830 children that did not have access to basic household goods. When a family is faced with a lack of resources or stability at home, a child is potentially at risk for compromised academic success and healthy social development. For the student who experiences a period of difficult transition, one that may have included time spent in homelessness or insecure home environments, academic and social life can be daunting in ways that might not challenge more privileged students. Instability affects every aspect of a child’s development, from grades to self-esteem in their peer group to physical health. Instability, as defined by The Urban Institute* is the experience of abrupt, involuntary, and/or negative change in individual or family circumstances.

This lack of resources, such as food security or affordable access to healthcare, creates higher levels of diagnosed anxiety among low-income parents which can be passed on to their children, manifesting in social anxiety and poor academic performance. Studies tracking student progress through the 8th grade also saw a rise in behavioral issues among those who were experiencing familial transition via causes like divorce and housing transitions.

When a family visits Community Warehouse or a furniture bank in their local community, they are looking for some of the pieces that contribute to a stable home. Through donations of gently used household goods, furniture banks can play a powerful role in helping to create a solid foundation for students to excel and grow among their peers. With a warm bed, a child is far more likely to get sufficient sleep so they can focus in class. With a desk and a lamp, a child has a\\ place to do homework and study. Or, maybe they work on homework at the dinner table, troubleshooting a tough equation with older siblings; asking mom or dad for help reviewing state capitals. With these same household goods, parents can also get a good night’s rest, make toast in the morning, and have a space to work on a resume or study for class themselves, as they build pathways for their future.

So, imagine again a child’s typical school-day morning, drowsy and full of hopes and fears. The leaves on the trees in the schoolyard have turned. Kids play soccer beneath wandering clouds of their own breath on the cool air. Now, imagine what a difference the donation of a twin bed, a dresser, a small desk or even a toaster can make to that child’s experience of the second, or eleventh grade. It’s not the whole puzzle, but your donations really can have an impact on that child’s experience….of their first day of school, their first school play, or maybe even their first straight A report card waiting for mom and dad on the kitchen table.

*From The Urban Institute’s report: The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development.

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