What is the Philadelphia Furniture Bank?

  • Philadelphia Furniture Bank Grand Opening with staff, board members and participants.  Now in it's 2nd year of operation, celebrating serving it's 1000th client.
    Ribbon cutting at the Philadelphia Furniture Bank with Furniture Bank Manager Tom Maroon, Volunteer Barron Dean, Senator Shirley Kitchen, Diamond Furniture and Mattress Owner Gary Randazzo, Sandy Sheller of the Sheller Family Foundation, CEO of Pathways to Housing PA Chris Simiriglia, and Pathways Board Chair Bob Hunn. Photo Credit: Sarah Bones.com
  • Several lamps arranged in a beautiful display.
    This beautiful lamp display at the Philadelphia Furniture Bank was set up by Mark, a volunteer and graduate of the bank's Supported Employment program.
  • A hand drawing of a cartoon character with the words "Thank you for helping my family, may God bless you."
    This photo was drawn by a young boy whose family received furniture from the bank. He addressed it to "Mr. Tom," and you can find it hanging in Tom's office today.

Have you ever had a dream? Maybe you dreamt about something fantastical, like owning a pet unicorn, or breathing underwater. Maybe you dreamt about something grandiose, like being a movie star, or winning the lottery. Or maybe you dreamt about making the world a better place, about taking a small step to change the issues you see right in your own back yard. Pathways to Housing PA had this last kind of dream; it was called the Philadelphia Furniture Bank, and today it is over two years old.

Here's how the dream began. In the last decade, the city of Philadelphia has been working hard to create new housing opportunities. As new families and individuals got apartments, agencies couldn't keep up with the demand for furniture. “I remember people coming to us when the bank was first opened,” says furniture bank director Tom Maroon, “and they had a place, but they were still going to sleep in a shelter because they wanted a bed and a chair to sit in during the day.” Agencies were purchasing furniture, soliciting donations, or sending staff to thrift shop (and occasionally trash pick) to help their clients. The city needed a solution that cost less and delivered a better result.

“For years, the conversation about a place to collect and distribute furniture donations has been floating around,” says Pathways CEO Chris Simiriglia. “I thought to myself, ‘this isn’t brain surgery. We can do this.’ So I did a little research...and just started talking about it. I said, ‘Pathways is opening a furniture bank to meet the needs of all of the homeless service providers.  Who wants in?’” Several key partners stepped forward. Many thanks to Gary Randazzo of Diamond Furniture, the Barra Foundation, The Sheller Family Foundation, the Patricia Kind Foundation, the McClean Contributionship and the Shrenk Family Fund. Thanks to their generosity and support, the Philadelphia Furniture Bank opened in December of 2014.

The basic idea behind the furniture bank is simple. Many people have furniture they don’t want, while many others desperately need it. The bank serves as a channel between the two. They get furniture from hotel clean outs, overstock at thrift stores, and donations from those who want their furniture to make a difference. Then our member agencies (you can learn how to become a member agency by clicking here) bring their clients to the bank, where they are able to pick out a set of furniture that they like. Our team delivers it to them, and they’re on to the next steps in rebuilding their lives.

We could write multiple blogs on the furniture bank, and we will! You’ll get to hear a lot more about them in the upcoming weeks. For now, what you should know is that the furniture bank has served more than 2,400 individuals in its first 2 years, and we are only just getting started! We have dreams of expanding our work to continue to serve the many men and women taking steps to build new lives for themselves after homelessness, fires, or other tradgedies. Check back with our blog to learn more in the upcoming weeks, or visit the PFB site by clicking here to volunteer, make a donation, and learn more.

Want to read more about the Philadelphia Furniture Bank? Click here to take a trip back in time and see where it all began.

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About the Author

Becca DeWhitt is an MBA candidate at Temple University. She is passionate about creating a world where everyone's experience and perspective is valued, and sees story-telling as a powerful tool to that end.