A Personal P.O.V. by Kyle Cummins
This goes out to all of our supporters, those of you who wish to become supporters, and to other non-profit organization team members.It’s my hope that you will feel a sense of appreciation for what we do, touched by what we do, and at the same time be entertained by our personal accounts.
It has been eight months since I started working at the Houston Furniture Bank and boy howdy! What was supposed to be a simple social media and web development job has turned into an experience that has me wearing many hats to fit the ever-growing needs of the organization and the clients it serves. Sometimes it seems like my real position isn’t so much Web Development Coordinator as much as the “we need to get it done” guy. Personally I know it’s all worth it and today I wanted to share with you the moment where I realized that working here and doing what I do is the right thing to do. First, though, for those of you who don’t know who we are and what we do… this next paragraph is for you.
The Houston Furniture Bank is a charitable organization that aims to provide basic home furnishings to Houstonians. We do this by working in partnership with more than 85 other charitable organizations that provide a wide range of services to individuals and families in need. To accomplish this we rely on the commitment and support of many people, at all levels, from staff to donors to volunteers. Some days it can be hard work, but it’s rewarding. And all of us who work with the Houston Furniture Bank (also at all levels) have had that moment where we just knew we were doing the right thing by working here. Today I wanted to share my story on when this moment happened for me. Now on to the story.
I was chosen to work on the Houston Furniture Bank’s flood relief program in May 2016, after the Tax Day floods occurred. I became the intake and outtake manager — essentially my job was to make sure enough furniture was donated and then placed with families that had lost everything to the flooding. This included calling furniture companies, churches, and other companies to make ensure that donations continued flowing in, to make sure we had enough furniture on hand for those who needed it. In addition, I was in charge of contacting the families to coordinate delivery of the furniture to their homes.
While making my phone calls to the families who were going to receive furniture, I contacted Bridgette Noble (her name was given to us by a referring organization). It took several tries, but I eventually was able to speak with her directly. I made many similar phone calls, and they mostly followed a standard format where we would ask them to confirm some basic information. Then asking them what they had lost in the floods. Followed by explaining to them what we can and can’t replace. Finally scheduling a delivery or pick up date with them.
While the call with Mrs. Noble started out the same as the others, it wasn’t. In our conversation I found out that she had Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease I was familiar with because of my mother, and that after the floods she had moved down to a part of Galveston County that placed her outside our delivery range. It would have been easy to simply tell her “sorry ma’am we don’t deliver in that area,” but I couldn’t bring myself to say the words. Instead I resolved to do the delivery myself. We had agreed on a date and time, and I scheduled her delivery.
On the day of the delivery I asked my coworker with help in loading the furniture into a van I borrowed. It was a really light order as this only included a dresser, coffee table, and two end tables. In addition to that I chose a time after our working day hours to start the delivery which was 4 pm. In retrospect I should have know that 4 pm plus Houston plus driving down I-45 would equal encountering lots of traffic. Only two and a half hours I had arrived in Texas City.
I unloaded the furniture with the help of her eldest grandson, then engaged in a brief conversation with Mrs. Noble. Two things were impressed upon me: the first was the grace of this woman, really fitting of a woman named Noble; and, the second was the conditions she had endured living in the place that had flooded and on top of that dealing with MS. Needless to say it was a very sobering conversation, it gave me insight to the struggles some people endure everyday. And I knew then that not only was my personal delivery the right thing to do, but also that my work with the Houston Furniture Bank was the right place for me to be.
Most of the staff at the Houston Furniture Bank have a similar story about a moment when they understood the impact that they were making as part of this organization. In fact, our executive director Oli Mohammed’s story about seeing the need for this organization’s services was literally the spark that started it all. These stories also are a common thread for our board members, D.I.V.A.S., volunteers, and our donors. It’s the reason we continue in our commitment. And I can say this for many of us here — it’s totally worth it.
My final note is to thank all of you. We really could not do this without your support. I would kindly ask you to consider making a donation (it’s easy, just click that nice red Donate Now button at the top of this webpage). I also invite you to please leave a comment on this blog post and that you share it on your social media networks. At the end of the day it is you, our supporters, who really make the difference and make it possible for more of these stories to become a reality. Thank you, Houston, from all of us who are involved, employed, and benefitted from the Houston Furniture Bank.
Web Presence Coordinator
Houston Furniture Bank