Find out how you can donate furniture or volunteer your time making deliveries
Every Saturday, volunteers with Hope to Home help families leaving distressed situations move into new homes, providing furnishings, kitchenware, and linens.
The bubbly seven-year-old girl flopped on top of her new bed, freshly made with colorful cartoon sheets, before hopping down to playfully roll underneath (something she couldn’t do when she was sleeping on the floor). Across the room, a bright white dresser held the child’s clothes, finally folded neatly after being stored in a plastic bag. Out in the living room, her mother settled in a cushioned armchair, quietly taking in the now comfortably appointed apartment. A new start. Perhaps, they would be okay after all.
“There’s security in being able to come home from a day of work and collapse in a chair, eat dinner at a table, then sleep in a bed with clean linens,” says Tom Young, pointing out that safety is second on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a classification system for ranking human motivation. As the founder and president of Hope to Home Furniture Resource, he understands the promise that can be found inside basic housewares. “When you have a warm and inviting home with pictures on the wall and a rug on the floor, there’s a feeling that you can make it.” For nearly a decade, Hope to Home has sourced, stored, repaired, and gifted basic home furnishings to people coming out of distressed situations such as homelessness.
Visit hopetohomesc.org for information about how you can donate or volunteer.
Young began to form the idea for such a service during a volunteer visit to One80 Place (then called Crisis Ministries), where he learned that the shelter’s greatest need was furniture for permanent housing. So the retiree set to work refurbishing pieces from the defunct barracks at North Charleston’s Navy base to be placed in residences for homeless people camping under the freeway or graduating from One80 Place. In the years since, Hope to Home’s reach has expanded to mothers and children fleeing domestic violence, sex trafficking survivors, displaced veterans, and ex-convicts. “If people have furniture and are comfortable, they’re not going to leave. They’re going to stay on track and move forward,” says Young, explaining that the recidivism rate for such undesirable situations drops to 10 percent when people have a welcoming space to call home.
Hope to Home partners with more than 15 local aid agencies, including One80 Place, The Navigation Center, and The Formation Project to connect with those who can most benefit from its free service. The founder stresses that working through established agencies helps the nonprofit ensure that furniture recipients have a support system and a community base to reinforce success. “If a local organization or church has helped someone get housing, secure a job, and learn life skills, the odds of that person returning to their previous situation are much lower,” says Young. “They can get on their feet and stay there.”
Founder Tom Young says filling Hope to Home’s warehouse with donated, gently used furniture is the nonprofit’s biggest challenge.
Funded by individual donations and a handful of grants, the all-volunteer group provides the furniture, kitchenwares, and linens needed to set up a home free of charge, making deliveries every Saturday. In 2022, the team set up 227 households (that’s 421 beds, 278 dressers, 676 kitchen tables and chairs, 151 sofas, 154 armchairs, 352 linen kits, and 182 kitchen kits). “We also hang pictures on the wall, if that’s permissible, and pack a Bible with every move,” adds Young.
Of course, when you move 151 sofas into homes, that also means you’ve picked up 151 sofas somewhere. “Filling our warehouse with furniture is our biggest challenge,” says Young. Two to three times weekly, the team coordinates pickups of donated furniture from individuals, consignment stores, home stores, hotels, and liquidators. The organization’s “Tinker Tuesday” crew then works to repair, clean, and reupholster the pieces. “We never let an item out of our warehouse that we wouldn’t put in a neighbor’s house or give to a friend.” And Hope to Home treats everyone they serve as a neighbor. At the close of each move, volunteers sit down side by side with these proud new residents to talk, pray, and connect. “We try to give them some hope toward what we call ‘life on purpose.’”