Iowa Association of REALTORS Furniture Build

Iowa Association of REALTORS Furniture Build

The work we do with our clients doesn’t stop after we’ve moved them into their new homes. Through our Rapid Rehousing program, our Housing Case Managers perform months of housing follow-ups, supporting our clients as they move toward self-sufficiency and ensuring the transition to their own home is sustained.  While move out day is a celebration for all of us, we are simultaneously confronted with the challenge that the folks we work with often have no furniture—not even a bed to sleep in or a table and chairs at which to sit down to a meal with their family. In response, we rely on furniture donations from our community and help the men and women with whom we work, as we are able, to furnish their apartments.

Recently, we were fortunate to hear from the Iowa Association of REALTORS (IAR). As a part of their annual conference, hosted in Coralville this year, they had a team building exercise—an IKEA furniture-building competition. IAR wanted to ensure the exercise not only helped to build relationships and stronger teams throughout the Association but that in addition, the furniture built went to people in need. IAR knew they could trust Shelter House to make that happen. As Jamie Rix, Advocacy Coordinator for IAR put it, “It’s important to realize that REALTORS do more than sell houses, they are active members of the community and see to it that their communities continue to improve. We believe in Shelter House’s mission to provide housing services for those in need…”

We had the opportunity to say a few words about Shelter House before the build began, and then seven teams from across the state set to purpose—immersing themselves in building furniture for our clients as fast as they could!

In a little over an hour, the teams had completed 7 tables, 7 dressers, and 28 chairs and helped load it all into a donated UHAUL. As a bonus, the Iowa City team finished in 3rd place and gave us their $500 prize! The next day, staff and volunteers delivered the furniture to the homes of individuals and families who had recently moved out of the shelter. Everyone receiving furniture was overwhelmed with gratitude.  One woman remarked “My apartment now feels like a home.”

It’s easy for us to take for granted simple things like a table, dresser, or bed, but these are items that serve a purpose, providing both function and convenience.  They add character to where we live and allow our homes to be a place we treasure. The men and women with whom we work have lost most all of their personal possessions by the time they come to Shelter House.  They do not have the resources to store their furniture when they fall into homelessness and the ability to purchase these items is often out of reach. Budgets are stretched to cover the basic necessities—rent, utilities, food and clothing.  Many thanks to the Iowa Association of Realtors for responding to this need—helping men and women and their families move from homelessness to housed and home!