It was a new beginning and a new start,” Diana said, after she picked out furniture and other household goods for her new home.
Diana was trapped in a cycle of domestic violence at home. She tried for years to get out to protect both herself and her children. Not only did she want to get away, she wanted to stay away. To do so, Diana had to build a new life for herself and her family.
CARITAS welcomed Diana and her children into its Emergency Shelter. There, CARITAS caseworkers connected Diana with housing resources to help her gain long-term stability. The exciting news soon came that Diana and her children could move into their new home.
CARITAS began as an all-volunteer effort called Winter Cots in the early eighties. It was a response to a dramatic increase of people on the street and in need of shelter caused by a convergence of social issues.
Karen Stanley, CEO of CARITAS, said, “Today, CARITAS is Richmond’s largest homeless services provider. The organization has grown to provide effective, permanent solutions to individuals and families dealing with the crises of homelessness and addiction in the Metro Richmond area.”
Stanley added that the CARITAS Emergency Shelter is the largest and most inclusive shelter in Central Virginia, working with 160 local congregations to provide temporary housing and resources to more than 700 individuals and families with children each year.
Since its inception, the CARITAS Works program has provided job training and life skills to nearly 500 men who have significant barriers to employment. The Healing Place reports a high success rate of more than 70 percent due to its nationally known best-practice model. And about 900 families in need receive essential housewares and other furniture for their new homes each year via The Furniture Bank.
For Diana and her family, securing a new home was excellent news. But, filling it with essential items was a task that intimidated Diana. That’s when The Furniture Bank was called into action.
The Furniture Bank works in close partnership with more than ninety local nonprofits and social service agencies that refer 800 to 1,000 individuals each year. A client sets up an appointment to shop with a trained volunteer who guides the shopper through The Furniture Bank donated inventory of gently-used furniture and household goods. Together, they pick out furniture and household items for the client’s new home.
“It was a blessing to be able to walk through and pick out my furniture,” Diana said. “I didn’t have to go to ten different places to get everything I needed to start my family’s life over. I could go to CARITAS, and knew I had everything I needed when I left.”
Because of The Furniture Bank, Diana could focus on searching for a job and planning her family’s future instead of hunting for and paying for
household items. The Furniture Bank clients include women escaping domestic violence, individuals and families who have been homeless, elderly persons on limited incomes, people with mental and physical disabilities, refugee families from all over the world, people recovering from substance abuse, victims of natural disasters, and the working poor. It is the only resource of its kind in Central Virginia.
CARITAS serves nearly thirty families each week at The Furniture Bank with generous donations from community members. Stanley said the donations in The Furniture Bank are an example of the community’s giving spirit.
“We see so many items that are no longer appreciated in someone’s home, but are in great shape and will be perfect for another family,” says Stanley. “Richmond’s generosity amazes me, and I see it in action at CARITAS every day. Whether it’s through the Emergency Shelter program with the local congregations, CARITAS Works, The Healing Place, or The Furniture Bank, people are incredibly giving.”
To learn more about donating or receiving furniture, visit The Furniture Bank.