October 1, 2021
Ten Charlotte interior designers create dreamy spaces to help Furnish for Good serve those in need.
by Michelle Boudin
Maria Lindsay was homeless for 10 years before finally getting a place of her own last year. She moved in with her two children but didn’t have any money left over for furniture. That’s when she was introduced to Furnish For Good, a Charlotte nonprofit that provides gently used home furnishings for people in need.
“I was overwhelmed with everything they offered,” Lindsay says. “They gave me a checklist of everything they thought I might need — beds, kitchen table, dishes. I broke into tears — it was the boost I needed to get back on my feet. My daughter kept saying, ‘I have my own bed, I have my own bed!’”
Furnish For Good is set up like a showroom — clients can wander through and choose what they like best.
“We reuse quality furniture and work with people transitioning out of homelessness and poverty and help to transform their lives by empowering them,” explains co-founder Priscilla Chapman. Chapman, Mary Beth Hollett and Lesley Faulkner started Furnish For Good in October 2019, initially taking over the fifth floor of a Morningstar Storage facility near uptown and transforming the 4,000-square-foot space into a showroom. They were brought together by Kathy Izard, a champion for the Charlotte homeless community who challenged the women to find a more dignified way to help people transition into home ownership. The volunteer-run organization has grown so much, the showroom now takes up several floors, and the women are currently searching for a new home, hoping to find a space with at least 10,000 square feet.
Furnish For Good partners with 15 agencies in Charlotte, including Roof Above and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, with a waitlist of a dozen more groups that want to work with them. Clients pay a small fee, typically about $200 for a family of four, to select furniture and household goods for their homes.
Leaders of the nonprofit saw the need skyrocket during the pandemic and are bracing for what they anticipate will be an even bigger need in the year ahead.
“It’s been a really big year for us,” Hollett says. “We’ve served 520 people in total. Last year we worked with 104 families, and this year we expect to work with almost three times that. It’s enlightening and scary, and I really think once the moratorium on evictions comes up, it’s going to get worse for a lot of our families.”
Faulkner adds, “There is so much need, it’s a little overwhelming — but it’s also awesome to feel like we’re having an impact.”
The growing need is one of the reasons the founders are so excited about their second annual fundraiser, Furnished, when they invite 10 Charlotte interior designers to create vignettes in Furnished For Goods’ showroom. During the virtual fundraiser, the public is invited to vote on the winning design and bid on featured items in an online auction. Last year, Furnished raised nearly $100,000, and this year, the organizers hope to raise at least $150,000.
“It’s an awesome collaboration with volunteers, the designers we work with and the communities we serve to help people who need a hand up,” Chapman says. The silent auction items — including furniture, artwork, mirrors, rugs and more — will be available to preview October 25-31 at ffgfurnished.com, or you can swing by and see them in person at South End Exchange at 111 New Bern St. on Oct. 29 and 30.
Lindsay says being in her fully furnished home has been life-changing. She got her GED, is now working, and is studying to be a nurse at Central Piedmont Community College.
“I look at this as one big step toward me being self-sufficient. I’ve always told my kids, ‘No matter what it takes, we are going to come out on top.’ And this has brought us so much joy and happiness, I already feel like we’re on top.” SP
SouthPark Magazine is the media sponsor for Furnished, which takes place online Oct. 25-31 at ffgfurnished.com. Learn more about Furnish For Good at furnishforgood.org. The auction ends at noon on Oct. 31.
Featured image: Kelley Vieregg created this winning design for last year’s Furnished. Again this year, 10 interior designers will create vignettes for the nonprofit Furnish For Good’s annual fundraiser. Photograph by Dustin Peck.