By James Bash
For the Hollywood Star News
If you are looking for a great place to donate that old sofa or the kitchen table that you have in storage, then consider dropping them off at the Community Warehouse. The Community Warehouse, 3969 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., is a unique furniture bank that directly sends household goods to needy people. The non-profit typically works with other agencies to provide lamps, chairs, linens, mattresses, dressers, bookcases, and other items to people who have been victims of domestic violence, homeless, or struggling to make ends meet for one reason or another.
“Right now, with the housing market the way it is, we are seeing a lot more people who are at risk,” said Jessica Thompson, the operations director. “The working poor folks that we hadn’t been serving previously are now coming to us.”
Since its founding in 2001, the Community Warehouse has helped thousands of families rebuild their lives by working through agencies with caseworkers.
“We have established relationships with about 200 social service agencies,” remarked Rena Satre Meloy, communications director. “If a new agency wants to work with us, then they can attend one of our orientations. Anyone who is a case manager can come in and access our services. If a case manager is working with a family that needs housing, then they will set up an appointment online with our services and just come in.”
The need has been so great that the Community Warehouse has opened a second receiving and distribution center in Tualatin, and between the two locations, it has served over fifty families every week this year.
“Our goal is a three day turnaround,” noted Thompson. “So if you donate something, it will be given to a family in need in three days.”
Besides the big furniture items, the Community Warehouse is also looking for housewares such as coffee makers, pots and pans, silverware, kitchen utensils, vacuum cleaners, pillows, shower curtains, and space heaters. Basically anything that would help to create a home atmosphere are is needed.
You can simply visit the Community Warehouse’s website to see what goods are needed. If you cannot deliver the item, you can pay $30 for a Community Warehouse truck to pick it up. The $30 helps to cover gas and mileage.
You can also volunteer to work in the warehouse, help with outreach programs, or sell wares in the estate store. The warehouse has a large space where items are received, sorted and stored until they are given to a needy family. The outreach programs seek to educate and inform the public. Some of the items are selected to be resold in the estate store, which is located at the public entrance to the Community Warehouse. There you may find antiques and other treasures of higher value. These items are sold to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The estate stores (in Northeast Portland and Tualatin) are very important to the financial health of the Community Warehouse. They have raised more than a third of the money needed each year for the Community Warehouse budget, which is more than $1 million.
“Our income consists of grants, monetary donations, and money from our estate stores,” explained Meloy. “We also have two major events. One of them is the Chair Affair, which takes place in the spring. About a hundred local artists pick out a selection of run-down chairs or tables. They take them to their studios and completely refurbish and transform them into beautiful, whimsical pieces of art. Then we auction them off.
“In the fall, we do the Warehouse Roadshow, which is like the Antique Roadshow,” continued Moley. “People bring in their antiques, and Gary Germer, who is a well-known appraiser, estimates their worth. A lot of people donate their items to the store afterwards.”
The Community Warehouse location on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. has a large area where you can deliver your items. It is very clean, tidy, and well organized. Recently a business donated quite a number of Tempur-Pedic mattresses to be given away to military veterans.
Normal hours of operations for the Community Warehouse are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.