Furnishing Homes to Rebuild Lives in America

LSSNCA case managers Layth and Tesfay worked hard to ensure this family had the necessary furnishings to turn their apartment into a home.

July 7, 2020

Community Forklift’s Community Building Blocks (CBB) Program and the local nonprofit Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) help refugee families in our area rebuild their lives. LSSNCA’s Refugee and Immigrant Services Program helps furnish apartments for newly-arrived refugees that are forced to flee their homes because of war, persecution, poverty, and civil unrest. Community Forklift’s CBB Program provides them with free essential furniture pieces like tables, chairs, dressers, couches, and lamps.

Every year LSSNCA welcomes hundreds of refugees from around the world to the United States. From the moment a refugee arrives at the airport, LSSNCA’s staff is ready to greet the newcomers and provide guidance during this important transition. One of their crucial services is to secure and set up housing prior to the arrival of their clients. If LSSNCA staff is unable to get furniture donated, then they have to buy furniture using money that would otherwise go to the families directly. Community Forklift’s CBB Program grant provides LSSNCA with free furniture and allows them to provide refugee families with funds to use toward rent and other necessities instead.

“With the help of Community Forklift, we are able to provide the much-needed furniture to make newly-arrived refugees and their families feel comfortable and welcome in their new homes,” says Asinate Vitusagavulu, Maryland Director at LSSNCA.

“Usually, LSSNCA receives at least two weeks notice of an upcoming arrival and LSSNCA coordinates volunteers to set up homes for our clients. However, at times LSSNCA has been given less than a week’s notice and limited time for preparation. In such instances, LSSNCA has benefitted from being able to select furniture needs from Community Forklift to set up these new homes as well as store furniture in our own storage for future arrivals when our furniture donations are low.”

In addition to setting up homes, the staff also provides the families with other supportive services to help each household gain self-sufficiency. These services include case management, mentoring, employment training, and immigration services. Depending on refugee arrivals and enrollments, LSSNCA expects to help 80 to 120 refugee families and other eligible humanitarian immigrants this year.

“An unemployed, recently-arrived refugee mom living with HIV and her toddler had no place to live after being asked to leave by their landlord,” Vitusagavulu said. “With limited time, LSSNCA was able to secure housing for them and along with community donations from Good Neighbors of Capitol Hill and furniture from Community Forklift, the mom and child were able to have a comfortable and safe home. Community Forklift graciously let LSSNCA staff pick out furniture for them and provided flexibility with the pickup and delivery of the furniture to the new home. The client has since started working as a result of employment services LSSNCA provides and another client of ours, who happens to be her neighbor, provides childcare. With the help of the community, LSSNCA was able to give her and her child a new lease of life. This is just one of many examples of how LSSNCA works with incredible partners like Community Forklift to help meet the needs of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the community through collaboration.”

I am inspired by the resilience of the refugee and humanitarian immigrants we serve and the passionate and dedicated colleagues that serve alongside me.

Asinate (Tanya) Vitusagavulu, Maryland Director at LSSNCA

Community Forklift is honored to have worked with LSSNCA since 2016 to ensure that refugee families have a community of people that will lend them a hand during their transition to life in the United States. We greatly appreciate LSSNCA’s compassion and humanitarian efforts.

LSSNCA is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit that offers a comprehensive range of services throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. LSSNCA is always looking for volunteers who can assist with mentoring refugee youth and families, drivers, ESL tutors, and movers. If you are interested in helping this amazing organization, please contact Community Relations Director, Shelby Kruczek, at kruczeks@lssnca.org.

***

Every time you donate or shop at Community Forklift, you’re helping us lift up local communities through reuse. We turn the construction waste stream into a resource stream for communities in the DC region – by keeping perfectly good items out of the landfill, preserving historical materials, providing low-cost building supplies, and creating local green jobs.