New Home for the Furniture Bank
Furniture Bank has moved to a new home at 11 Peel Avenue in Toronto. On Monday June 1st the official "Ribbon Cutting" ceremony took place followed by an all-day Housewarming and Fundraising BBQ. This larger facility will allow for more inventory and serve more people. The Sisters there, pictured l. to r., Sisters Stephanie Sinkewicz, Nataline Bondi and Anne Schenck, and Sr. Janet Speth, below right, are delighted. We asked them to describe what they do and to comment on the new building.
Sr. Anne Schenck
"Since receiving the inspiration to found a Furniture Bank in 1996, I have been involved in the 'birthing' of this new ministry. The first question was 'Where and how do I begin?' It was like trying to pick up an octopus - which tentacle do you pick up first?
"After the official incorporation of Furniture Bank as a registered charity in January 1998, I was President of the Corporation (until June 2009), Chair of the Board of Directors (until October 2005) and Executive Director (until February 2004).
"Currently I am on the Board, one of ten directors. Ours is a very active Board as we draw up the many policies needed for a growing organization.
"I see myself as the 'memory' of Furniture Bank, ensuring that the focus remains on the clients served. I also support and encourage the volunteers, many of whom have been with us for a number of years. I spend two mornings a week at the warehouse."
Sr. Stephanie Sinkewicz
"I started to volunteer at the Furniture Bank about ten years ago, three or four half-days a week. The furniture and a whole spectrum of household goods was just beginning to dribble in, challenging our creative imagination as to how to sort and display it. As well, I accompanied clients as they selected their wares.
"For the past four years I have focused on refurbishing donated pictures, then trying to display them artistically. About this time, Sister Nataline Bondi joined me.
"We take much satisfaction in the knowledge that these pictures will add a little beauty to the new homes being established. Now, in our new location and with increased donations, more people will enjoy these lovely pieces of 'furniture' from our 'bank.'
"We have been privileged to journey with staff members and other volunteers who have inspired us by their dedication to helping others in need."
Sr. Nataline Bondi
"I've done different duties at the Furniture Bank over time. My current one is assisting Sr. Stephanie with the 'picture department.' I clean pictures that are ready to be displayed. I also repair frames that are salvageable or replace any pictures that are faded, not current or need to be updated. This is where old calendars and posters come in handy. Sounds boring, but it is really very satisfying. It brings out my creativity and it's good to know that, in a small way, I am contributing some beauty while helping our clients establish a home for themselves. The time I spend there is very flexible, which is important to me.
"Sr. Stephanie shares this work, as well as displaying the finished products very artistically.
"The new 'digs' is a perfect warehouse for us. It meets our needs for display and for daily operations. We're going through some adjustments because it's new and different, but I'd say we landed on our feet and are running!"
Sr. Janet Speth
"I began to volunteer at Furniture Bank in the fall of 2007, helping out at the call centre where the furniture donations and pick-ups of furniture are handled. Over the past year I have worked Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons in the business office assisting with the reorganization of the files. It has been very interesting since the information goes back to the very beginning of Furniture Bank ten years ago. This has given me an opportunity to appreciate the growth and the many changes that have been made since Sister Anne first planted the tiny seed of her vision.
"In April of 2009, Furniture Bank found a new home at 11 Peel Avenue. What a difference! Walls in brilliant primary colours — red, yellow and blue — greet people as they come into the building, a former a toy factory. This vibrant energy lifts everyone's spirits. Warm in cool weather and conditioned in the summer, the building is spacious, with much more square-footage than we had before.
"Our new space provides work-stations for the office staff and other administrative persons. IBM has generously donated office furniture and wall partitions so that each person has a 'private' area. A challenge for this growing organization will be to preserve the heart of the mission, to keep alive the original grassroots spirit that marked the early days of Furniture Bank."
Edited by Mary Buckley CSJ
Photos by Gisela Côté