Maine has become home to a wide variety of immigrants who fled their homeland for a variety of reasons. Most arrived with nothing: no clothes, supplies, money and certainly no furniture.
Were it not for the local non-profit Furniture Friends, they would be sleeping on the floor. The group is celebrating five years in a new space and with big plans.
"To come as far as we have in the amount of time that we have is really amazing,” Jenn McAdoo, executive director of Furniture Friends remarks.
A growth spurt within Furniture Friends means the ability to help more people: a larger warehouse with new heated space, room for administrative offices and more donated furniture.
McAdoo describes some of the inventory in the front of the warehouse. "You know we have real leather furniture, really nice upholstered chairs, some great quality sofas."
When we last checked in with Furniture Friends, in 2016, they struggled in a smaller space, filled to capacity. When McAdoo took us on a tour last year, it was difficult squeezing past the furniture piled high inside. "And we have a lot of bureaus and some beds over there."
A short time later, we caught up with students who had loaded up furniture inside the warehouse into a truck outside the warehouse doors. They were in the process of making a delivery in a nearby neighborhood.
"And if you guys could just come and help me get these," one of the volunteers asked as she began the process of unloaded heavy, metal bedframes from the truck. She was a student volunteer with Greely High School in Cumberland. High school students comprise the largest piece of furniture friends’ volunteer base. In return for their hard work and sweat equity, students earn precious community service hours, which are required for them to graduate.
One look on their faces, and it’s easy to see their hard work is quickly rewarded by the reaction from families who are receiving new furniture.
The donated beds the students carry inside will provide comfort and a sense of permanence to the Syrian family who has recently moved in. They fled the bombing and gunfire tearing through their homeland. "because of the crisis, the war over there, we couldn't stay any longer, so I had to come to Maine, Maine is a great place."
The family arrived with nothing but their freedom and a dream for a better future for their children which makes Jenn McAdoo more resolved that her group Furniture Friends are an important link. "So beds are a real priority for us and always have been because we think people deserve a good night's sleep."
Furniture Friends is projected to help 600 families in 2017--- up from 435 last year. From beds to couches, tables, lamps, and rugs, they help create a home which means inventory is critical.
"These are things that are going into peoples' homes so they have to be in good repair, they can't be ripped, or stained because you know things that you would want in your home is the quality we're trying to give to the next person,” McAdoo emphasizes.
Furniture no longer needed by one family is repurposed and treasured by a new family.
The Syrian born father of four beams at his new delivery. "Brand new bed and tonight when we sleep on it, we're going to thank you forever!"
If you have furniture in good condition that you would like to donate to furniture friends, you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at (207) 210-5797. Also, you can check out their website: www.furniturefriends.org