Winter 2018 Newsletter

A Message from
Dan Kershaw, Executive Director

Dan Kershaw

Whether you are renting a room, living in an apartment or a house, your home is your castle. Often due to circumstances, many individuals and families have a hard time being able to afford furniture and everyday necessities. January 28th, 2018 marked

20 years that Furniture Bank has been providing gently used furniture and household goods to people transitioning out of homelessness, women and children escaping abusive situations, and refugees and newcomers to Canada.

With the help of numerous volunteers, countless hours of pro-bono corporate work and financial donations, small and large, Sister Anne Schenck of Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, formally incorporated Furniture Bank as a charity in 1998.

In 2017, Furniture Bank served over 10,400 individuals, 3,806 of which were children. More than 1,500 tons of furniture and housewares were diverted from their almost certain path to landfill. It has been a productive and inspiring year.

2018 promises to be more active, with significant new partnerships to support expanding beyond our west Toronto location, working with Agencies, volunteers and donors, to change the lives of families in need, through gifts of furniture and housewares.

We need your help. Your time, your furniture, your ambassadorship and financial support to accelerate our efforts to end furniture poverty.

Together we can do this.

Thank you,

Dan Kershaw

What supporters like you helped us achieve in 2017?

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Volunteer Spotlight: Krysta Taylor

Krysta Taylor
Furniture Bank Volunteer for 3 years

Krysta

What inspired you to volunteer your time?

A few years ago, my family and I moved homes and we were looking for a place to donate some furniture. After a quick search on the Internet, we discovered a place called Furniture Bank. Here was a solution in which we knew our donation would be put to good use. Two years ago, when my schedule allowed me to volunteer, the first place I thought of was Furniture Bank.

Why Furniture Bank?

For me, Furniture Bank is one of the most important charities for helping people live with dignity. It is not always the case that a person who is immigrating from another country, or a person who is fleeing an abusive situation or a person who was formerly homeless can afford to furnish a new home. Getting started in a new life can be a great challenge. However, clients can come into the Furniture Bank and choose furniture to fill their whole house.

When a client visits Furniture Bank, they most often tell me they have nothing; which means they and their children (!) are sleeping on the floor, eating on the floor, trying to study on the floor surrounded by blank walls and empty spaces. The thought of this emptiness alone is enough to churn my stomach.

When we have finished our appointment and we are reviewing a client’s order, it fills me with a sense of relief and happiness knowing that in 2 days, these people will now have furniture to share with their families. They can gather around their new dinner table and enjoy a family meal. Their children can sit at a desk and learn. They can all relax on their new sofa together. All of these things that most people take for granted. Once they have a house filled with furniture, they can move onto the next phase of living their new life.

What does home mean to you?

A home is a safe place to be with your family and friends. A home is a place to eat, sleep, to gather together or a sanctuary from the outside world. Having the very basic need of furniture turns a house into a home.

Client Spotlight: Jessica

Jessica
Mother of Two, Furniture Bank Client

Furniture Bank, January 2018

Relieved to be given priority housing, Jessica, a young mother, is clear about what made her apartment more than four walls.

“When your place is empty, you feel empty. I’m grateful to be out of the shelter but it’s been sad here without furniture. These walls aren’t what make a home. It’s the comfort of the things within the walls. Can you sleep on a wall, or relax on one? The changes that furniture brought to our home were immediate. Being able to cuddle on the couch. Being able to put my kids to bed the first night, because they finally had a bed – there are no words. I want my kids to know what a home feels like.

Once you have the feeling of home inside you, you’ll work hard to have one and keep it. When the kids start school, they’ll be able to invite their friends over to our home with pride. It’s the little things that really are the big things in life. I always want them to know that and appreciate what they have. Furniture allows us to be a family, a family like any other.”

Did I ever think I’d have two small children with another one on the way – and have no place to live? Not in a million years…

– Jessica

Partner Spotlight: REMAX Hallmark

RE/MAX Hallmark

Ken McLachlan’s commitment to giving back to the GTA is well documented. As a recent volunteer at the Furniture Bank, Ken got to see our systems first- hand and meet some of the people doing the work to make a difference in the lives of thousands.

Ken, CEO and Partner of RE/MAX Hallmark, recently recounted a story of spending time with a man from Peru who had just arrived to Canada. This man’s family had no furniture, no dining table, not even a sofa.

Ken walked away from the experience, affected, having learned two things. In his words “I learned that the need is big. Far bigger than I could have imaged. And, I also learned that the Furniture Bank turns over its inventory every 72 hours. The demand for furniture and housewares is that immense.”

A community leader by every measure, Ken saw the need, and took action by lending generous support to Furniture Bank in building up its capacity help.

In September of 2017 RE/MAX Hallmark came on board as the founding sponsor, of Furniture Bank’s 1st Annual Golf Classic, and again as Gold

Sponsors of our 7th Annual Chair Affair fundraiser in November. RE/MAX Hallmark has since signed on to support these events again in 2018.

At its annual AGM, in front of 500 RE/MAX Hallmark agents, Ken welcomed Furniture Bank to the stage sharing that “most of the furnishings donated to Furniture Bank come by way of people transitioning homes; downsizing and moving. These are OUR people. More than just help, we can take the lead on eliminating furniture poverty in Toronto, and as we help Furniture Bank grow, across the country.”

RE/MAX Hallmark agents across the city are picking up the mantel, taking a leadership role in eliminating the unspoken harm of furniture poverty. Furniture Bank could not have asked for a better gift to help celebrate our 20th Anniversary!

Donor Spotlight: Sonia

Sonia
Furniture Bank Donor

Toronto resident and Furniture Bank Donor 

Written by: Natalie Mulligan, Furniture Bank Team Member

When we walked into Sonia’s home, we saw that they were getting rid of things and remodelling. There were workers both inside and outside of the house.

There was dust everywhere. As soon as Sonia sat down to tell us about her circumstance, she began to cry. In a short period of time she unexpectedly lost both her mom and dad and had begun the process of removing their items and renovating.

Sonia’s parents moved to Canada from Spain before she was born. Her family worked hard to be able to start a life in Canada; furniture was a luxury. When she learned that Furniture Bank existed she knew that she wanted to donate. She explained through tears that it would mean a lot to them.

Sonia shared that this was her childhood home and that she is going to be moving back in with her own family following the renovations. The home is a cozy two story with three small bedrooms upstairs, a kitchen, living room and dining downstairs and then a finished but unused basement. Their home wasn’t like this when she was growing up – her family rented out the top floor and lived on the main floor. So back then, they had only two bedrooms, a kitchen and a washroom to live in. All their time was spent around the only furniture they had – a kitchen table. This was the piece of furniture that was most meaningful to her.

Thirteen years after moving in, her family has decided to use their whole home, taking over the rental unit. Sonia remembers going furniture shopping with her parents and what a “big deal” it was. The two sofas that were purchased were the other meaningful pieces that, along with the table, will provide new memories for new families. Sonia is thankful to pass it on.

Sonia told us what she loves most about Furniture Bank is that “families don’t have to make a choice between furniture and food. They can have both.”

Ken McLachlan’s commitment to giving back to the GTA is well documented. As a recent volunteer at the Furniture Bank, Ken got to see our systems first- hand and meet some of the people doing the work to make a difference in the lives of thousands.

Ken, CEO and Partner of RE/MAX Hallmark, recently recounted a story of spending time with a man from Peru who had just arrived to Canada. This man’s family had no furniture, no dining table, not even a sofa.

Ken walked away from the experience, affected, having learned two things. In his words “I learned that the need is big. Far bigger than I could have imaged. And, I also learned that the Furniture Bank turns over its inventory every 72 hours. The demand for furniture and housewares is that immense.”

A community leader by every measure, Ken saw the need, and took action by lending generous support to Furniture Bank in building up its capacity help.

In September of 2017 RE/MAX Hallmark came on board as the founding sponsor, of Furniture Bank’s 1st Annual Golf Classic, and again as Gold

Sponsors of our 7th Annual Chair Affair fundraiser in November. RE/MAX Hallmark has since signed on to support these events again in 2018.

At its annual AGM, in front of 500 RE/MAX Hallmark agents, Ken welcomed Furniture Bank to the stage sharing that “most of the furnishings donated to Furniture Bank come by way of people transitioning homes; downsizing and moving. These are OUR people. More than just help, we can take the lead on eliminating furniture poverty in Toronto, and as we help Furniture Bank grow, across the country.”

RE/MAX Hallmark agents across the city are picking up the mantel, taking a leadership role in eliminating the unspoken harm of furniture poverty. Furniture Bank could not have asked for a better gift to help celebrate our 20th Anniversary!

How can you make a difference in the lives of people today?

Please support Furniture Bank with furniture, financial donations, and your time (volunteer, part-time and full time positions available.)

Call us (416) 934-1229 or email at

info@furniturebank.org