When You Shop our Tag Sale, You Help Women Like Monique

Here’s one good reason to shop our Tag Sale this weekend: Monique.

Monique is a shining example of a partnership between two nonprofits that are helping people get a new start in life. New skills, new job, new furniture, new work wardrobe, and a new confidence. Monique was referred to The Green Chair Project from Dress for Success Triangle, one of our 50 nonprofit partners. We’re teaming up with Dress for Success this weekend to hold sales at the same time on Friday, June 15 and Saturday, June 16, so we can help women like Monique.

Monique recently graduated from Wake Tech and now has a career in workforce development, thanks to the support she received from Dress for Success Triangle. 

“I’m not just surviving; I’m starting to live,” she said.

“We see how hard our clients work and how deserving they are,” says Dress for Success Raleigh Operations Manager Sarah Cowles-Zambon. “It’s a partnership I value.” She continued: 

” The Green Chair provides an avenue for stuff to have a second life.”

Monique’s children were in for a big surprise when they arrived home from school recently: their home was filled with furniture, all from The Green Chair Project. And, all three of her children had a bed of their own! “I didn’t know there would be so many options,” said Monique.

We are so grateful to partner with nonprofits like Dress for Success, and help women like Monique. “It’s a new chapter of being a graduate and an employed citizen,” she says. “It’s the beginning of the end.”

The Green Chair Project loves to give women like Monique a hand up. Shop our Tag Sale or donate here to help us serve strong women like Monique.

 

 

 

The Green Chair Project Partners with The VA to Serve Our Veterans

 

At The Green Chair Project, we are proud to work alongside the kind and dedicated case managers from the VA who help veterans reach their own personal goals for a better life.

The VA Homeless Program and Healthcare for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) help veterans who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The HCHV connects them with medical, mental health, substance use, employment, and housing resources, while The Homeless Program works to reduce homelessness among veterans by providing a wide range of services such as outreach, case management, and housing.

The VA escorts veterans to The Green Chair Project to select the furnishings they need to make their new homes comfortable and complete.

It’s a privilege to meet the men and women who have served our country; we’re touched by their humility and grace. 

This Memorial Day, we thank our community for working with us to show our gratitude to these veterans who have sacrificed much on our behalf.

Green Chair Experience “Was The Light in the Midst of my Darkness”

 

Meet Janciel–he is poised for a bright future with this new desk from The Green Chair Project. Janciel says he was excited to get to choose his own desk and have a place do his homework, and hopes to one day become a businessman.

Janciel and his mother, Nellyan, were referred to The Green Chair Project from Easterseals. Nellyan said, “I cannot begin to express how overwhelmed I felt with this opportunity.”

“It brought a huge smile to my face and happiness to my heart. This experience was the light in the midst of my darkness.”

When families shop The Green Chair Project, an important part of their experience is shopping with dignity. Browsing our beautiful furniture showroom, they are empowered to make their own choices as they select everything from couches to kitchen tables and even dish sets.

Nellyan said, “My son and I love all the furniture that we were able to choose, but my favorite is my dresser.” Janciel also received a new bed and got to select his own comforter; now he’ll get a good night’s rest in his own bed after doing his homework at his new desk!

“Being able to share this experience with Nellyan and her son was a true blessing,” said Nancy, the case manager from Easter Seals who referred Nellyan to The Green Chair.

Nancy said, “Just seeing her excitement as she chose her furniture made me very emotional. As soon as she stepped out into the parking lot, she began crying of excitement.”

“Thank you for all you do to empower our families and to offer them a new beginning.”

How can you help? We need your gently used dressers, desks, couches, tables and chairs. We are always in need of gender-neutral twin sheet sets and comforters, and love when groups hold drives to collect items like bedding, pillows or kitchenware. Learn more about how to donate here. 

The Green Chair Project Partners with CASA to Help the Homeless

How are clients referred to The Green Chair Project? Through our many partner agencies, including CASA, who shared this guest blog.  

The Green Chair Project is a Wake County nonprofit that provides gently-used furnishings for a small fee to individuals and families transitioning out of homelessness into secure housing.

Green Chair shoppers select living room and dining room furniture, kitchen items, and bed and bath linens.  The donated items are presented in a showroom setting in a way that promotes dignity and respect.

CASA is a Green Chair Project partner.  We refer our newest tenants to their showroom for a shopping trip to furnish their new homes.  When CASA opened its veteran specific properties in Raleigh and Durham, CASA’s veteran tenants visited the Green Chair where they were able to find the furnishings needed to outfit their new homes.

Kathleen DeRubio, CASA’s volunteer coordinator says,  “Our residents start their visit a little unsure of what to expect, but when they begin to imagine their new place with furniture and art on the walls, they get so excited.  Everyone always leaves happy and feeling optimistic about their new life.”

Learn more about the The Green Chair Project’s mission and needed donations, and reach out to the team at CASA to see how you can help solve homelessness in the Triangle.

Green Chair Project Volunteer Works with Families Empowered by Choice

Volunteer Kristyn Turaj works with families and works the front lines, from answering phones to greeting visitors.

As a psychologist who specializes in working with children and families, Kristyn Turaj knew she wanted to work directly with families when she started volunteering with The Green Chair Project last year.

Kristyn volunteers weekly, providing support to our program staff and helping to manage a very busy front desk and reception area. From answering the phone, to taking donations, to explaining our program to visitors, Kristyn fills a valuable role in being willing to fill in where we need volunteer help the most–on the front lines.

Kristyn says her favorite aspect of volunteering is that it’s so rewarding. “Sometimes clients are crying happy tears, they are so overwhelmed. Often they share with me that they didn’t know they were getting so much.”

“Often clients share with me they didn’t know they were getting so much.”

“It’s amazing to see how appreciative the families are,” says Kristyn. “They feel very empowered; they get to make choices.” She remembers one woman saying, “I haven’t had a table in so long.”

If you’re interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities at The Green Chair Project, visit our website for the next orientation, held the 2nd Wednesday of most months.The next orientation is March 14 at 2 pm.

Reflections from Outgoing Board Chair, Kim Glenn, on “Year of Firsts”

Last week, outgoing board chair Kim Glenn turned over the reins to Phil Kowalczyk, who will serve as our new 2018 board chair. We wanted to spend a few minutes getting Kim’s perspective on highlights and accomplishments of the past year.

The entire Board, volunteers and staff here The Green Chair Project are grateful for Kim’s  passion, perseverance and vision.

Kim Glenn and Phil Kowalczyk

Q: How did you first get involved in TGCP, and why are you so passionate about our mission?

A: Jackie Craig and Beth Smoot literally started The Green Chair Project out of a closet at our church. I was inspired by their vision and drawn to the unique program model of reusing donated furnishings to help friends and neighbors coming out of homelessness or crisis starting over. As a development consultant, I am familiar with several wonderful agencies committed to helping families find a path to permanent housing, but The Green Chair Project is the only organization that provides all the essential household items a family needs to turn an empty house into a home.

Q: From your perspective as board chair, what were some of the highlights and accomplishments of the past year?

A: In many ways, 2017 was a year of firsts for TGCP. More than 600 households were served, and more than 500 beds were distributed to children throughout Wake County who would otherwise be sleeping on the floor–all major milestones for our program.

Transportation remains a significant barrier for many families who are starting over, and TGCP piloted a new delivery option to help ensure families can receive the furnishings they need to create sustainable homes – everything from sofas, tables, and beds to flatware, pots, and pans.

TGCP is continually looking for ways to help the growing number of families in need of furnishings. It took five years to serve our 1,000th family, and but in just a little over a year, we have doubled that number.

Q: What are you most proud of? Is there one thing that stands out?

A: I’m deeply proud of TGCP community. Our board, donors and volunteers give so freely of their time and talents, furnishings, and financial contributions. The importance of their support cannot be overstated. They are truly changing outcomes for our friends and neighbors in need.

Kim Glenn, new board chair (right) with vice chair Kim Shirley (left) and Leesa Sleep CPO and founder Jamie Diamonstein at an event for our Sweeter Dreams bed program.

Q: As we work to serve more families and build awareness, what do you want this community to know about TGCP? 

A: People describe TGCP as a joyful place. The families and individuals we serve have overcome a great deal to get to the point where they can start over. At TGCP, each family is given the opportunity to personally select every item they need to furnish their homes in an environment that promotes choice and dignity. It’s an empowering and uplifting partnership.

Q: How do you recommend that someone get involved in The Green Chair?

A: There is truly something for everyone at TGCP – whether you want to help families who are starting over, are at a stage in your life where you or your parents are downsizing, or are interested in recycling or reuse, you can find a fit at TGCP. Visit us at http://www.thegreenchair.org/ to learn about the many ways to become involved.

Q:  If you could pass on advice to next year’s chairman, what would it be?

A: We have an aggressive goal to double the number of families we serve annually, and fortunately, our incoming chair, Phil Kowalczyk, was an integral part of creating this vision. His leadership, along with the outstanding commitment of Jackie and the staff, are putting us in a position to make this a reality.

Kim Glenn served as vice chair of The Green Chair Project Board of Directors in 2016 and chair in 2017.  She is a senior consultant with moss+ross, LLC, a strategic development consulting firm serving central North Carolina. She has more than 14 years of experience in development and development consulting and has worked closely with numerous area nonprofits to help strengthen fundraising and organizational capacity.  She is a graduate of  UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Donate Furnishings You’d be Proud to Give to a Neighbor

In 2017, generous donations of quality furnishings helped 626 families start over.

Hundreds of couches and dressers and dining tables and chairs were delivered to The Green Chair Project through our Free Essential Pickup Service.

We don’t subscribe to the notion that “something is better than nothing,” so our movers don’t pickup items with tears, smoke or pet odors, stains or structural damage. 

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At Green Chair, we want to provide attractive furnishings presented in a way that demonstrates our respect for those we serve.

Our litmus test is pretty simple:  donated furnishings are items you’d be proud to give to a neighbor – because the veteran, the victim of domestic violence and the homeless family that found affordable housing are just neighbors you haven’t met.

Thank you for making new beginnings possible with your gifts to Green Chair. Click here for information on what and how to donate.

Local Chefs Team Up to Make Sweet Dreams Possible

Guest blog by Mary-Catherine Freeman

December 3rd was the evening of our Savor Sweeter Dreams event, and one of the first nights of the holiday season that truly felt like winter. With a crisp chill in the air, people from across Wake County bundled up and made their way to Crawford & Son Restaurant to support and celebrate our Sweeter Dreams program with an evening full of delicious food and rich conversation.

Upon entering the restaurant, attendees were ushered into the warm and intimate gathering by Executive Director Jackie Craig and future Green Chair Project board chair, Phil Kowalczyk.

The meal was prepared by three of the Triangle’s most esteemed chefs including Ashley Christensen, Scott Crawford, and Matt Kelly.

Not only did all three of these renowned chefs donate their time, energy, and effort to creating an evening no one will soon forget, but the entire waitstaff and kitchen crew volunteered to come in on their day off free-of-charge to make sure the event was seamlessly executed.

The goal of the Sweeter Dreams program is to provide children across Wake County with a bed of their own. School social workers identify children who are without beds during the academic year and refer them to The Green Chair Project’s quarterly bed distribution.  While many of us often take a bed and a restful night of sleep for granted, it is far from guaranteed for these children who are instead crammed into beds with other family members or forced to sleep on the floor.  

How did this event come to be?

Four years ago, Phil and his wife Gretchen learned about our Sweeter Dreams program after donating some furniture to The Green Chair Project.  Upon finding that approximately 5,000 children in Wake County do not have a bed of their own to sleep in, the Kowalczyks rallied behind our cause and committed themselves to doing whatever they possibly could to help.

The Kowalczyks came up with a plan of action that was three-fold: to build community, create a special, intimate gathering, and, most importantly, “to get kids off the floor.” As Phil says: “local needs, local friends, local chef, and doing good in a fun and elegant way that inspires us to do more.” Phil reached out to Scott Crawford to put together a multi-course dinner, and asked Wine Authorities to come up with wine pairings. While only five couples attended that first Savor Sweeter Dreams dinner, the evening netted $4,750–enough to fund 32 beds, surpassing their original goal of 20.

Fast forward three years later to 2017, and you will find that our Savor Sweeter Dreams dinner has grown significantly. After years of involvement, Crawford graciously offered to put a new twist on the event by hosting it at his restaurant. This also allowed us to expand the event by increasing the number of attendees to 60. Each ticket was $250, which is the exact amount that it costs to provide a child with a new bed, including a twin mattress, boxspring, bed frame, and a set of bedding. Several attendees chose to pay an extra $250 to attend the before-dinner cocktail hour and provide not one, but two children with beds.

“In the days leading up to the event, while tickets were selling out, requests for beds were flooding in from our partner social workers connected with Wake County School students, said Craig. “Miraculously, the funds from the total ticket sales amounted to the exact amount necessary to provide a fully equipped bed for each child in need this holiday season.”

“This event exemplifies the impact that we can have when we gather together as a community to put ideas into action. It inspires us to dream bigger and to continue fighting for the day when every child in Wake County will have a bed of their own,” Craig said. 

On Saturday, Dec. 10, beds were delivered to 78 children across Wake County. Because of all the support and contributions from the Savor Sweeter Dreams dinner, each of these children now has a place to rest their head, they have a space to call their own and they have something that actually belongs to them. When you donate to the Sweeter Dreams Program, you are giving a child far more than a piece of furniture; you are giving them dignity and a chance to feel safe, taken care of, and comforted.

“Every child has the right to a bed. Every child should be able to lay their head down on their very own pillow at the end of the day and not have to worry about waking up cold in the middle of the night or being too tired at school the next day.

Craig continued: “It’s so easy to take these basic needs for granted, but the reality is that there are thousands of children across Wake County who will not have a bed to sleep in tonight, which means that we still have a lot of work to do.”

To learn more or support us in our mission to ensure that every child in Wake County has their own bed to sleep in, please click here.

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This guest blog was written by The Green Chair Project volunteer Mary-Catherine Freeman. A professional photographer, she donated her services to take photos of the Savor Sweeter Dreams event. 

Adina’s Story of Recovery, Strength and Renewal

The Green Chair Project is more than a store with a showroom where families recovering from homelessness, crisis or disaster can shop for essential furnishings. We’re a story–a collection of stories of hope, strength and new beginnings.  

The men, women and families who walk through our doors are starting over. Many have overcome homelessness, abuse or addiction. Some are finally setting out on their own after transitioning out of foster care or living in group homes. They are putting their lives–and homes–back together.

When you donate to The Green Chair project–financial resources or furniture donations–you are changing lives. Here is Adina’s story of just one of the many lives we are changing thanks to the support of our community and the generosity of our donors.

Journey to Recovery

Adina’s smile says it all: I got this now. Behind this confident smile is a story of resilience. Adina had a tough childhood and turned to drugs but knew this was not the path for her.

With the support of her case manager at North Carolina Recovery, this single mother overcame many obstacles, and is now getting a brand new start in life. But she is not alone: she has the support of her case manager with North Carolina Recovery and a welcoming staff and volunteers at The Green Chair Project.

When Adina came to The Green Chair, she had a bed, but little else. She had never before been able to make her own choices.

As she shopped our furniture showroom, one thing was clear: she loved pink! Adina and daughter had fun selecting bedding and other items they could find that were pink–including a pink broom!

For the nominal fee of $100, Adina was able to select the essentials for her new home, including a love seat, coffee table, nightstand, microwave, rug, lamp, dishes, pots and pans, and linens. The small investment she made bought more than home furnishings; it provided dignity and choice. The welcoming staff and volunteers at The Green Chair made Adina feel empowered, respected and loved.

Adina has big dreams; she hopes one day to have her own organization to teach culinary skills and provide jobs for others.

She is an inspiration to others, showing strength and resilience on her road to recovery.

Your donations–both furnishings and financial–enable The Green Chair to support mothers like Adina. Consider supporting our Annual Fund so we can help more clients like Adina say “I got this.”

Service After the Military: Vet Helps Vet at The Green Chair Project

When John Dunlap heard a Navy veteran was coming to The Green Chair Project, he didn’t hesitate to ask to help out. As logistics coordinator, John usually works behind the scenes, keeping our warehouse and showroom well-stocked and in order. But this time he wanted to work directly with the client and serve a fellow veteran transitioning to a new home.

John Dunlap, Green Chair Project logistics coordinator and Navy vet

William, client and Navy vet, trying out his new couch

When John met William, a veteran who was about to select furnishings for his new apartment, they formed an immediate connection, having both served in the U.S. Navy.  “It’s like I’m back on the battlefield, like I’m helping a brother,” said John.

“No matter when you serve, the fact that you served connects you.”

John could relate to the transition William was going through. When John first walked through our doors in 2013, he was getting help after three and a half years in the Navy, and nine years in the Army National Guard. When his military service ended, Passage Home helped him make the transition to civilian life. Through Passage Home, he was connected to The Green Chair Project. He started working here in April 2017.

When William recently browsed our showroom floor, John assisted as he selected a couch, chair, kitchen table and other essentials for his new apartment. He had one goal in mind: he wanted everything to be in order for his son’s homecoming. John said he could sense the pride William had, making his own choices, and knowing he could provide a homey and comfortable environment for his son.

Two vets connected through The Green Chair Project–both transitioning from the military at different times, but forming a bond as one vet helped another get a new start in life.

John has kept in touch with William since he set up his new apartment, and even stopped by to see how all the new furnishings looked. John said William was happy with everything he selected, and ready for his son to return home.

“We talked like shipmates,” said John. “I always want to help out a fellow vet.”