Worth a Second Look Furniture and Housewares

Good Work News, September 2004

Furniture and Houseware Recycling in Kitchener-Waterloo is about to get a new look. Over the past year a number of projects have combined their energy to come up with a new venture that will serve the community in new ways.

Alfred Heinrich is a retired Corrections worker who over the last three years has been advocating for a community/church initiative that would put together what Alfred refers to as a ‘settlement package’. He has made it his business to convince anyone he could that a room or an apartment is not a home unless you have some basic possessions like a bed, sheets, a table and chairs that make a new living space welcoming. Such items would make up a settlement package that could be distributed to homeless individuals once they are able to find housing

In order to help the settlement package idea along, Alfred worked with The Working Centre to establish what we call the Housing Desk. This project is not meant to duplicate other housing services. It provides The Working Centre with a place to locate information on housing and to keep that housing information up to date. It is also designed to accept and train students who provide the main labour force while on placement from social service related programs. The Housing Desk supports people in need of housing through the process of finding, establishing and sometimes providing basic settlement items.

Alfred approached the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) to help provide the settlement packages. The SSVP’s Thrift Store already supported people in similar ways. The Thrift Store was also collecting furniture and housewares. SSVP was dealing with an increasing volume of used clothing that could no longer be efficiently sorted at their 97 Victoria location. The Society was considering opening a clothing thrift store in downtown Kitchener and perhaps at other locations. The discussion started to turn towards dedicating the main floor space of 97 Victoria towards a Furniture and Housewares recycling centre. The idea of such a community venture appealed to a number of groups who started participating in the meetings.

This group has called itself the Community Coalition for Furniture and Settlement and includes the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, The Working Centre, John Peters who represents Generations Thrift Shop, Alfred Heinrich, and Geoff Ayton, a MSW student and Tony Bender from the House of Friendship.

The Working Centre saw the opportunity to cooperate in providing these much needed settlement packages, and also recognized the unique way the Job Café labour project could provide a workforce to refurbish older or damaged furniture to make it ready for re-use.

The retail store will be called Worth A Second Look - furniture and housewares. We intend to create a community wide effort to decrease the amount of furniture and houseware materials that end up in the landfill by:

  • providing pick-up and collection services to increase access to used furniture and housewares.
  • providing a dedicated retail outlet brimming with recycled, reusable goods.
  • providing a fix-it facility to clean, test, repair, and recreate reusable goods.
  • providing settlement packages of donated furniture for individuals and families who want to establish a home but have few resources.;

We hope to meet the majority of expenses through retail sales while also supporting people living on a limited income. We will depend highly on the generosity of the community and volunteer contributions.

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