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Turning Houses Into Homes

It’s easy to take something as simple as a bed to sleep in for granted, but that is not always the case.

In the last five years, the number of children living in poverty in the Sioux Falls community has increased by 48 percent. Last year alone, there were 900 students in the Sioux Falls School District reported as homeless at some time throughout the year. As these students and their families transition out of homelessness, they will need furniture that they most often cannot afford. That’s where The Furniture Mission comes in.

“Our motto is ‘Turning houses into homes,’” says Executive Director of The Furniture Mission, Bart DeBoer. “We know that children sleeping in a bed are more likely to achieve success in school, a woman with children who leaves an abusive relationship is more likely to succeed and not return to that relationship in desperation, and someone who has recently been released from prison will be less likely to wander the streets in boredom if they have furniture that makes their apartment into a home instead of four empty walls.”

The Furniture Mission, a United Way Funded Program, provides each client with a bed or beds depending on family size, all the necessary bedding, towels, a nightstand, a dresser, lamp, dishes and cookware, a kitchen table and chairs, a sofa or loveseat and chair, and several pieces of decorative and miscellaneous items.

Since they started in 2003, they continue to serve more families year after year. In 2016, they helped 1,795 families and are projected to serve another 1,970 this year. All furniture is donated by individuals and organizations in the Sioux Empire, and delivered to homes by volunteers at no charge to the client. These volunteers often walk away with a new-found realization.

“Recently after a local church volunteered to do deliveries for us, a volunteer returned obviously emotional from the experience,” says DeBoer. “As the volunteer spoke with the family, a 14-year-old relayed how he had never had a bed, but for his entire life had slept on the floor. It is almost inconceivable that a 14-year-old living in Sioux Falls had never had a bed!  It is nearly a daily occurrence to have clients with tears in their eyes express their gratitude for the furniture they are receiving.”

DeBoer thanks the Sioux Empire community and United Way donors for helping to make The Furniture Mission’s dream a reality.

“Our goal is not to end poverty in Sioux Falls, our goal is to change lives by providing a safe and comfortable environment and making houses into homes for families through the generosity of our community,” says DeBoer. “We appreciate all of the support from United Way. You are an essential part of how we serve our community.”

To learn more about The Furniture Mission and other United Way Funded Programs, visit www.seuw.org.