Turning empty houses into homes. American Association of University Women (AAUW) West Chester-Chester County representatives presented the 'Gateway to Equity Award' to the Community Warehouse Project (CWP), located in West Chester at 800 E. Virginia Ave.
“CWP’s mission is to collect and redistribute donated furniture and other household items to families and veterans in need in Chester County. It’s generally a one-time, free service to pre-screened recipients, supported through the generosity of those within our community,” explains CWP Executive Director Glenda Brion.
The Gateway to Equity Award is presented annually to a group, organization, or individual that's shown by action and philosophy in the promotion of the AAUW mission to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. The Community Warehouse Project was chosen from nominations made by AAUW members.
“We have a story to tell. Most of the clients are single moms,” says Glenda, who herself, she adds, was raised by a single mom.
“So I know how important it is to have a home. But if you don’t have furniture, you're more likely to become homeless again," she says, noting that an estimated 30 percent of families become homeless again if without furniture.
Glenda says children are more likely to thrive in a furnished home. "They are more hopeful.”
CWP provides about 60 beds a month to families and works with eight to 10 families each week. CWP gets referrals from teachers, churches, and 60-plus area agencies with whom they work. “It’s a team effort. None of us can do this alone,” Glenda says. “This past year, 72 veterans went through our program. We also helped when Hurricane Ida hit.”
When an individual or family moves into an apartment, not only do they find furniture, but also shelf-stable food from the Chester County Food Bank. Glenda says, “We use a moving company to pick up the furniture and move it to the client’s apartment, as well as volunteers who have trucks since most people don’t have a way to transport furniture.”
The executive director says she's especially enthused about a new project with West Chester University. “The director of off-campus housing has arranged for 60 graduating students, moving out of their housing, to donate their used furniture to the CWP."
For those interested in donating furniture, kitchenware, and household small appliances, items can be dropped off Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and every third Saturday of each month. Items must be clean and in good working order. A detailed list of accepted items can be found online.
The group also accepts financial donations and has an Amazon wish list.