The Furniture Bank Story

How an empty apartment inspired a movement

Watch how an empty home inspired a movement

One evening Sister Anne Schenck was asked by Catholic Immigration Services to visit one of their clients because they had no furniture. When she arrived, she found a ‘home’ furnished with a milk crate used as a table, and a pot which the dinner was cooked and served in. She learnt that her hosts ate and slept on the floor.

On her way back home that evening, she came upon a gently used sofa that had been left out on the curb for disposal. Sister Anne credits that experience for spawning the idea that gave rise to Furniture Bank – an organization that facilitated the transfer of furniture from individuals disposing of gently used items, to homes in need of them.

In her social work in the years that followed, she encountered a dire lack of furnishing options for financially vulnerable individuals, and a growing collection of supporters of her idea. With the help of numerous volunteers, countless hours of pro-bono work and financial donations, small and large, Sister Anne formally incorporated Furniture Bank as a charity in 1998.

4 Walls Alone Don’t Make a Home

Since then, Furniture Bank has evolved to become much more than about a simple transfer of furniture from those who have, to those who don’t. The Furniture Bank movement is one of empowerment – of individuals transitioning out of homelessness, of women and children escaping abusive situations, of refugees and newcomers to Canada.

Because we realise that furniture plays a powerful, albeit silent, role in our lives. We are all indebted to the use of furniture to live fulfilling lives – just try studying for an exam, resting after a hard day’s work, preparing a meal, or raising a family. Without furniture, even mundane tasks are near impossible.

Over the years, we have built up partnerships with a growing list of social service agencies and shelters who play a critical role in ensuring anyone in need of a fresh start is invited to our showroom, and given the dignity of choosing the items of furniture they would like to have in their homes.