As a designer I know the impact an environment can have on those living in it. So when I came across an article about Home Sweet Home, a St. Louis non-profit, in the Ladue News I knew I had to get involved. Next week many of us will gather around a table with family and friends and give thanks for the things in our lives that mean the most to us so I thought this would be an appropriate time to share the organization and my experience with you.
ABOUT HOME SWEET HOME
Home Sweet Home is a local organization, based in midtown St. Louis, that works with case managers at partner agencies throughout the St. Louis region to provide clients access to new or gently-used furnishings and basic household items. The majority of the people they serve are veterans, those who are homeless, and survivors of domestic violence looking for a new start. This October they celebrated their first anniversary and in that short time they have served over 140 families in need in St Louis and St. Louis County.
“Just wanted to update you and your staff. And say thank you for all the work you do for us and the community. Home Sweet Home is a godsend and you and your staff are angels. My dad started to tear up when we brought the furniture in. In this day and time, when the world wants to take, I just want you to know that you guys gave me and my dad a home. Continued success and may God’s blessings continue for you and your families. This Marine is forever grateful. Semper Fi.”
HOW IT WORKS
Once referred by their case managers, clients are able to shop in their warehouse to select all of the furnishings and household items they will need for their new residence. All items are then packed, delivered and installed by Home Sweet Home volunteers. Their mission depends on furniture and household donations(they will come and pick up your items), volunteers(to help clients shop, pack, install, organize) and monetary donations.
“In order to effectively address homelessness in America and impact a long-term solution to this problem, people transitioning out of homelessness need help with stability. At Home Sweet Home, we believe part of that stability comes from establishing a first home stocked with the necessities for everyday life. Part of maintaining a home is usability and affordability. We can help make taking the first step to stable home life comfortable and accessible.”
After reading the article and visiting their website, I contacted Betsy Reznicek, Executive Director at Home Sweet Home, to see how I could get involved. On October 7th, I got the call! The client was a military veteran with a 4 year old daughter. Due to her work schedule and relying on public transportation she would be unable to come in and select her items. I was asked to come in and make the selections on her behalf then participate in the delivery and installation. Making the selections at the warehouse was an eye opening experience. While some of the clients they serve are in need of a few items this family was literally starting from scratch. When we arrived at the apartment for the install, it was completely empty except for a sleeping bag on the floor that the mom and daughter had been sleeping in together. That day we set up beds with linens and pillows, stocked the cabinets with plates, cups, and utensils, and arranged a small sitting and eating area. It doesn’t seem like much but to this family it was everything.
I can tell you the entire process of loading the furniture at the warehouse to completing the install took no more than 2 hours. I can not tell you how many times the mom thanked and hugged each of us nor can I adequately express the emotions I experienced seeing her daughter jump into her very own bed with a pillow. I volunteered to make a difference in someone else’s life. I never expected the experience to make such a difference in mine.