Nonprofit Provides Furniture to Refugees, Others in Need
Friday, February 24, 2023
An Omaha nonprofit fills a unique need for people transitioning from a multitude of difficult situations.
The Furniture Project has grown from serving roughly 80 families a year to 728 last year, its first year with paid employees. Executive Director Matt Hoppe said that in partnership with another nonprofit, Restoring Dignity, they receive referrals from nearly 90 social-service agencies. This way, he said, they know the people have a genuine need and are getting other assistance as well.
In addition to others, Hoppe said, they hear from groups serving immigrants, refugees and survivors of domestic violence or human trafficking.
"They're fleeing, they don't have anything," he said, "and so what we are trying to become here - and what we've done a pretty good job of - is to become the one-stop shop for all of those types of items that make a space a home."
Omaha firefighter Drew Gerken founded The Furniture Project nearly nine years ago after meeting a family with literally no furniture while on a call. Gerken ran it until last year with help from colleagues and friends. Hoppe said although they don't yet have the trucks or manpower to deliver great distances, they'd work with interested Greater Nebraska agencies that could pick items up from their warehouse.
Hoppe said they typically can provide most of the basics to furnish a small apartment or house, including housewares and small appliances.
"If there are four in the family, we'll provide them four seats," he said, "so whether that's a couch and a chair, two loveseats, a loveseat and two chairs."
Hoppe stressed that The Furniture Project also serves as a support group for the other agencies from which it gets referrals.
"We're able to provide all of those items, we're able to go set it up," he said. "So, the social workers can focus on what their job is, rather than to focus on this other thing, which is, it's a basic human need."
The Furniture Project accepts furniture in good condition from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Hoppe said they especially need couches, dressers and mattresses, and will pick items up when they can.
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