This month, Houston Furniture Bank is opening a second location, located in The Woodlands. Credit for this milestone goes to the sustained work of countless individuals over twenty-eight years. Notable among these are the efforts of Houston Furniture Bank’s Vice-Chairman of the Board, Larry Cress, who has been one of our greatest supporters for over 20 years. Larry first began his work with Houston Furniture Bank in the early 1990s, helping his daughter deliver furniture to families in need.
“When you’ve walked into a home, where a mom and a baby are sleeping on the floor, and you bring them a whole house of furniture, a bed, a place to sit, a dining room table, a place to eat and a place to sleep, you really understand how you’ve changed their lives,” he said.
Ever since these formative experiences, Larry has been committed to the mission of “Making Empty Houses Homes.” Larry, whose philanthropy and social service are not limited to his work with the Houston Furniture Bank, appreciates the way that Houston Furniture Bank changes lives right in his backyard. “These are local resources going to local families,” he said.
Larry is a resident of Montgomery County, where he is a successful businessman and an active member of the community. A registered petroleum engineer, Larry graduated from Texas A&M in 1976 and has over thirty-six years of drilling and completion experience. He is CEO and President of New Tech Global Companies and CEO of Wild Stallion Vineyards. He and his wife Karen are active members of Church Project in the Woodlands. For Larry, his work with Houston Furniture Bank is about giving back. “I’ve been blessed more than any man should be blessed,” he told us.
Though it is home to some of the wealthiest zip codes in the country, Montgomery County also contains numerous concentrated areas of need, where the families who provide the services upon which others depend often struggle to meet their basic needs. “We’re going to be very close to people who have both tremendous wealth and tremendous need,” Larry said. Indeed, the new location of the Houston Furniture Bank is perfect for connecting resources with those who can benefit from them.
“Once we started seeing the impact, we started understanding that we can’t just do this in South Houston. Our goal is to serve the Greater Houston Area. Here, we are right in the middle of Kingwood, Cy-fair and The Woodlands. We can get to people more quickly for donation pickups. I think the community support is going to be very large here, and that’s what I’m most excited about,” he said.
Montgomery County is a community that is home to many vibrant churches, including Woodlands United Methodist, Woodlands Church, Christ Church United Methodist, and the Korean Community Church, just to name a few. “This area is home to a strong, faith-based community,” said Larry. Houston Furniture Bank is already working with our new neighbors, recruiting volunteers and helping to collect furniture and bedding, especially ahead of Houston Furniture Bank’s upcoming citywide “No Kids on the Floor” Bedding Drive this holiday season.
For years, the Houston Furniture Bank leadership has worked to grow what was once a small organization into a proven model that is ready to help families across the Greater Houston Area. Founded in 1992 by Executive Director Oli Mohammed, Houston Furniture Bank was established to fill a gap: Families overcoming hardships were starting over with nothing but four walls. The social service agencies working to help these families were often unable to take on the logistical challenges of furniture assistance. Cress explained,
“Furniture means inventory and logistics challenges. It means a big building. That’s where we step in. That’s what we do so well. That’s what we’ve been doing for 28 years. But if you look at the last five years alone, Houston Furniture Bank rose to the challenge of Hurricane Harvey. We see the tremendous potential to grow and serve our community.”
The last decade has been marked by many important milestones for Houston Furniture Bank. In 2012, Larry traveled to Eugene Oregan to visit the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s mattress recycling facility. He then helped found Houston Furniture Bank’s Mattress Recycling Center, which has just celebrated 100,000 mattresses recycled this summer. Larry also helped lead the charge in the capital campaign to open up the 75,000 square foot main campus of the Houston Furniture Bank in 2017 as we recovered from a devastating fire. That same year, he was on the ground helping families recover from Hurricane Harvey. In 2019, Houston Furniture Bank began its “No Kids on the Floor” initiative, and today more than 60 children are receiving a much-needed bed every single month.
The second location, known as “Houston Furniture Bank North,” is located at 295 Sawdust Road in the Woodlands. The building is being leased from Church Project, another organization that Cress is proud to support. When the project moved to a larger location, its leadership was committed to ensuring that its original space would continue to enrich the community. The location will be home to a Furniture Distribution Center as well as a Furniture Outlet. Houston Furniture Bank has already partnered with a number of organizations in the region, including Northwest Assistance Ministries, and Tri-County Behavioral Healthcare, to connect with families in need. Visitors to the location will be able to support a wonderful cause by enjoying great deals on high-quality furniture, donating their furniture and mattresses, and volunteering their time. With the help of the community, Houston Furniture Bank will continue to grow its impact, helping more families each year.
It is supporters like Larry Cress that have made this growth possible. “Larry’s commitment to ‘Making Empty Houses Homes’ has never waned. He believes deeply in the mission and is looking forward to expanding furniture assistance services to his own backyard” said Oli Mohammed, Executive Director of Houston Furniture Bank. Larry is in good company. “There’s just so many things about this charity that appeal to a broad brush of people. It’s not singularly focused,” he told us. From the families who donate their furniture to the companies who provide material support to the caseworkers who are connecting families with services to the volunteers who give generously of their time, Houston Furniture Bank is an institution supported by people from all walks of life. With leadership from Larry and others, Montgomery County is poised to become a community where no mattress goes to the landfill and every child has a bed.