By Deb Silverthorn
The Dallas Furniture Bank (DFB) has reached the chai milestone birthday — 18 years of making lives more comfortable, providing furnishings and support to more than 17,000 individuals.
Co-founder Sheryl Fields Bogen had a dream, built it up and kvells in DFB’s mission to furnish hope by turning empty houses into homes.
“My heart is so full with every story of an individual or family receiving pieces from us,” Bogen said of the thousands of pieces of bedroom, living room and office furniture and more that have been distributed from the organization’s Carrollton facility. “Shutting down even for two months during the pandemic was heartbreaking because we know closing meant not serving. We’re back to helping people sleep more comfortably on our beds, make memories around our tables and read stories together sitting on our couches.”
Twenty years ago, as Bogen served on the board of the Vogel Alcove Childcare Center for the Homeless, she heard over and over about the needs of families transitioning from shelters to their own dwellings.
“People put their things in storage, thinking their situation was temporary,” Bogen said. “Life throws things at us and for some it took six or nine months, and the cost to keep the storage is prohibitive. They’d leave the shelter, move into an apartment and have nothing,” said Bogen, who started the Dallas Furniture Bank with longtime friend Jerry Szor, who remains on the board. The two had been classmates at Greenhill School and then Washington University in St. Louis.
Clients come to the furniture bank through referrals by member agencies, including Jewish Family Service and the Vogel Alcove. The Dallas Furniture Bank also has a retail section, at 1417 Upfield Drive in Carrollton, which is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“For our clients, many of whom already have difficult times, the last couple years have been more than tough. The tornado, COVID-19 and the freeze have been incredibly challenging but Dallas Furniture Bank has been a huge help, offering incredible relief for so many,” said JFS CEO Cathy Barker. “On occasion, we have shared back to the Bank pieces that come to JFS’ Resale Shop. Our community is always at its best when working together to help others and this is one exceptional example.”
Karen Hughes, Vogel Alcove CEO, also praised Bogen’s efforts. “We’ve been tied to Sheryl and her incredible work for decades and we couldn’t do what we do without her and the Dallas Furniture Bank. Because of what they make available, we can help so many people.
“Half of our clients are homeless, the other half able to move into subsidized or affordable housing but they usually do so without the furnishings to be comfortable. It’s been a tough year-and-a-half because we’ve been open, still helping, while so much of the community had to close down, and we’re grateful to have our partners back.”
Acceptable donations include gently used sofas; dining, coffee and end tables; mattresses, box springs and bed frames; dressers; chests; nightstands; and lamps. Appliances, televisions, toys, computers and clothing are not accepted.
Furnishings come to DFB from individuals, hotels, retailers and a variety of industries. A recent donation included hundreds of pieces from Texas Woman’s University, which converted a dormitory into a dental hygiene and counseling clinic.
“I wanted to find new purpose for the furniture rather than send it all to a landfill and we just didn’t have a place to store it all,” said Pamela Temple, Warehouse Services supervisor at TWU. “I’m grateful we were able to connect. Everything we have is perfect for an efficiency apartment.”
DFB Executive Director Sarah Shealy, who joined the seven-member professional team this past summer, said she is proud to serve the organization.
“There is so much incredible that happens here and we really have the opportunity to change people’s lives,” said Shealy, noting that a $275 donation will furnish a one-bedroom apartment. “From our customers to those who donate their furnishings, time and financial support, everyone is affected for the better and I’m proud to be here.”
When Merica Clark, who is now working toward a degree in social work, was experiencing some difficult times, she turned to the Dallas Furniture Bank. Among the pieces the mother of four received were living room furnishings around which her family has shared meaningful time together.
“My children were so happy about the furniture, and we’ve enjoyed so much family time including all-day board game days. How cool is that?”
For more information, or to make a donation or to volunteer at the Dallas Furniture Bank, visit dallasfurniturebank.org or call 972-466-0600.