Oli Mohammed, Executive Director
Born and raised in Bangladesh, Oli completed his master’s degree in Political Science before joining the United Nations Environment Program in Kenya. His work there with a children’s orphanage was followed by a move to the United States, where Oli joined MHMRA of Harris County in 1991. “When I was a child, I read a book about the “glitter of new hope” that is America,” Oli explains. “Here at Houston Furniture Bank, we are working to make that hope available to everyone.” In 1992, he established a furniture donation program to serve families in the mental health system during their transition to independent living; ten years later, the program was established as an independent non-profit. Through all its transitions, Oli has provided the vision and determination to guide Houston Furniture Bank in its mission to serve those in need. Explaining his dedication to Houston Furniture Bank, Oli explains, “Day in and day out, there’s always that smile, the smile of ‘thank you’. Someone I’ve never seen before will stop me and give me a hug. It makes me feel like one of the luckiest men on the face of the planet!”
RICHARD – Manager, Operations
Richard began his relationship with Houston Furniture Bank in 2004, when he signed-on for a 2-week project. All these years later, “I’m still trying to finish the project!” Richard laughs. With unfaltering energy and impressive know-how, Richard makes sure we can meet our mission. His degree in Business Administration from Prairie View A&M and his background in Inventory Control provide Richard with the skills to “make it happen”. Whether it’s leading the truck-drivers in their daily donation pick-ups, directing our community service volunteers, or making sure we have the tools and equipment necessary to do our jobs, Richard is the one we know we can count on. In describing how Houston Furniture Bank provides families in need with beds to sleep on and chairs to sit on, Richard explains, “We pick it, we pull it, we pack it – and the client gets to go home with it. It’s like Christmas around here every day!”
JUSTIN – Manager, Information Technology
His title reflects only a small portion of Justin’s value to Houston Furniture Bank. He addresses all our technology issues and manages to keep the office “up to speed”, in spite of his role as a stay-at-home father for a new-born son. “This is a great organization,” says Justin, “and I really believe in what we’re doing.” Justin studied Communication at the University of Houston and has experience in computer recycling. Justin has been instrumental in helping us grow in our service to families and individuals in need. “But we still have lots of opportunities for growth here,” Justin notes, “and I’m excited about the direction we’re headed!”
SCOTT – Truck Driver for Donation Pick-Ups
Scott and Larry realize they play a bigger role than just driving the trucks which pick-up donations of household furniture. “We’re ‘the face’ of Houston Furniture Bank for the folks who are making the donations,” says Scott. “I always try to let these people know what a difference they’re making in some single mom’s life, in some child’s future – I want them to know how much we appreciate their donations.” With over 100,000 miles of driving between them and still a perfect driving record for both – Houston Furniture Bank appreciates you, too, Scott!
OSCAR – Manager, Bargain Bazaar Thrift Shop
Oscar’s relationship with Houston Furniture Bank began when the operation was still just two friends and a pick-up truck; since then he has been instrumental in much of its growth. With more than two decades of retail furniture sales experience, Oscar began managing Houston Furniture Bank’s retail thrift store operation, the “Bargain Bazaar”, in 2009. Proceeds from the sales of Bargain Bazaar’s new and gently-used furniture support Houston Furniture Bank in providing a child with a bed, a family with a dining table and chairs. “It’s certainly not a corporate environment at Houston Furniture Bank – we have a lot of fun working here,” Oscar declares, “but it’s the end result – helping people – that keeps me going. And the more I accomplish here, the more I know I’m helping people in need!”
WILLIE – Support, Bargain Bazaar Thrift Shop
He calls himself “The Repo Man.” when furniture is donated to Houston Furniture Bank, Willie grabs any special items and re-directs them to Bargain Bazaar for re-sale. All profits from the sale of these items go toward Houston Furniture Bank operating costs. From L.A. to Chicago, from Miami to San Francisco, Willie has learned the “in’s and out’s” of furniture. Still, Willie admits, “Before I came here, I didn’t realize how great the need is. Now I feel really good each day, knowing that I’ve helped somebody.”
SOLOMON – Manager, Mattress Recycling Program
Bolstered by a degree in business administration as well as by leading-edge training in “green” recycling processes, Solomon has undertaken the daunting task of reducing Houston’s landfill by 300,000 mattresses per year! “I’m happy to be working here at Houston Furniture Bank for many reasons,” Solomon notes. “For one thing, we’re helping clean-up the environment – for our kids, for our grand-kids, for the city of Houston… And we’re also providing an opportunity for employment and stability to folks who may be unable to obtain work due to a criminal background. “Last but not least,” Solomon adds, “I’m happy here because I love all the other people who work here!” The feeling is mutual, Solomon!
NADIA – Accountant
In spite of the duties required by her new-born son, Nadia still finds the energy and time to keep our books in order. With a Business Administration degree from San Jacinto College, she is in charge of our accounts receivable and payable – no mean feat when dealing with a non-profit social business! Nadia explains her motivation, “I like the staff here, and am impressed with how they help people without wanting anything in exchange. They make so many families happy!” With a new family of her own, she recognizes the contribution Houston Furniture Bank is making to the fabric of our community; and we recognize how valuable Nadia’s work is in helping us achieve our goals!