We often take furniture for granted, until we don’t have access to it. For our clients transitioning out of homelessness or displacement, furniture has a profound impact on their ability to live dignified and productive lives.
These are their stories.
Robert graduated from USC with a degree in electrical engineering and was hired as an electrical hardware engineer. Robert’s career was following the usual Silicon Valley script of advancement until 2014 when he suffered a stroke that severely limited the use of his left arm and leg. After his initial hospitalization, he was discharged to a care facility. However, when he could not make the payments to remain there, he became homeless. Even worse, no one would hire him. Today, things now are looking up for Robert, thanks in part to the Bay Area Furniture Bank, which helped him move into a fully furnished apartment. Eventually, Robert hopes to find an engineering job again and when he does, he expects to move out of his apartment and get a rent-to-own home.
Jorge and Claudia are professionals, he a petroleum engineer, and she, an attorney. They were forced to flee Venezuela as refugees and come to the United States. Upon arrival in the Bay Area, they moved in with their sponsor. After a short period of time, their host abandoned them, taking all of the apartment’s furniture in the process. Fortunately, they met a woman in a Brentwood grocery store who noted that they looked confused and asked if she could help. Jorge and Claudia explained their situation to their new friend, named “Angel,” who then reached out to the Bay Area Furniture Bank to see if they could assist. Upon receiving furnishings to help them begin their new lives in America, their gratitude was expressed as follows: “Thank you for the enormous help we received from BAFB for giving us dining room furniture, lamps, rugs, mirrors, dressers, chairs, and tables to furnish our home; so that our children could feel secure and comfortable. Our family is pleased with such a wonderful gesture and even more for the attention that we received. We will always be grateful to you! God bless you. Sincerely, Jorge and Claudia”.
Annette was homeless and struggled to survive on the streets of San Jose for over twenty years. One night, after being physically abused, assaulted, cut-up, and left to die on a downtown street, a 911 call resulted in Annette being rushed to a hospital where she was saved. After a prolonged recovery, she was provided a government-assisted studio apartment. However, Annette only owned an air mattress for furnishings. The Bay Area Furniture Bank was told of her plight and provided complete furnishings for her unit to help get her life back together and restore her pride, self-dignity, and hope.
Gil, a 97-year-old veteran of WWII, was retired and living a relaxing life in Paradise, CA until November 8, 2018. That was the day the Camp Fire started and would kill 85 people as it burned across 153,000 acres for more than two weeks. About 14,000 homes were destroyed and the town of Paradise lost 90% of its population. Gil was one of those individuals who lost everything he had in the fire and was forced to relocate. Relatives of Gil helped find him a place to live in Santa Clara County and the Bay Area Furniture Bank was able to provide him furniture. Of Robert’s gratitude, his relatives wrote that “He was overwhelmed with all of the support and furniture Bay Area Furniture Bank was able to provide. It is such a comfort to see him settled comfortably after all that he has been through.”
Susan’s dream was to become a psychologist. She had to drop out of the program at De Anza College to care for her sick partner, whose illness took a toll on her. After a long sickness, he passed away and Susan became homeless for three and a half years. She slept behind a liquor store for a year, and when asked to leave, she slept on the flatbed of a friend’s pickup truck, and inside the cab when it was raining or too cold to stay outside. When she ended up in a women’s shelter, her life changed: she was able to secure a one-bedroom apartment. Her goal now is to return to school and study medical billing. Upon receiving her items from Bay Area Furniture Bank, Susan could hardly contain her excitement and gratitude: “I thank everyone involved in my new ‘life’ and its fresh start. I am so happy and looking forward to my future. Thank you Brian and Valérie, I promise to stay in touch and let you know how I am doing.”