Furniture Sharehouse Marks 15 Years
of Providing Free Furnishings to People in Need
Furniture Sharehouse, the only resource in Westchester County that provides free furniture to economically disadvantaged individuals and families, celebrates 15 years of helping people in need rebuild their lives and live with dignity. Over those 15 years, Furniture Sharehouse has made a direct impact on families and individuals escaping homelessness or domestic violence; young people aging out of foster care; veterans; people who have suffered loss in fires, floods or other natural disasters and a steadily increasing community of recent refugees.
16,000 lives have been transformed; 57,000 homes have been furnished; 88,000 items given; 7,900 children impacted.
Furniture Sharehouse furnishes 8-10 homes each week for free, with furniture donations from local residents, businesses and financial contributions to support furniture pickup, storage, and delivery.
Furniture Sharehouse founder and Executive Director Kate Bialo recounts a moment in 2006 when while she was volunteering at The Junior League of Westchester (JLWOS) on the Sound thrift shop, The Golden Shoestring. Someone called hoping to donate a dresser. The Golden Shoestring, located in Larchmont, sells a host of gently-used items, but not furniture. So Kate, a past president of JLWOS, contacted a few of the League’s community partners to see if anyone had a client who could use it, but by the time she heard back from them, the dresser had been discarded.
The frustration of seeing perfectly good furniture being discarded regularly at the curb, and the difficulty of trying to connect those with furniture to donate and those who needed it desperately, inspired Kate to set up a “shared warehouse” to collect donated furniture and make it available to those who need it. JLWOS provided a generous grant to get it off the ground, and operating funds and volunteers to support it in the early years. Westchester County provided affordable warehouse space in an unused warehouse at the Westchester County Airport and grant funds for several years.
In April 2007, a Grand Opening Ceremony was held at the warehouse, with two rows of donated furniture, a handful of Member Agencies and some colorful balloons. Less than two weeks later, the County suffered devasting flooding, hitting the Sound Shore and especially Mamaroneck extremely hard. Furniture Sharehouse responded by setting up an emergency furniture collection and distribution center in Mamaroneck, collecting furniture and monetary donations from generous neighbors and quickly getting new mattresses and furniture back into the homes of those families who had lost everything.
With the help of The Hispanic Resource Center (now Community Resource Center), Washingtonville Housing Alliance and some amazing volunteers, 65 families were furnished in less than a month.
Since then, Furniture Sharehouse has provided more than 88,000 items of free furniture to more than 16,000 people, including 7,900 children, with a total thrift shop value of over $5 million. There are now 37 Member Agencies, with more joining regularly. The organization is operated almost entirely by volunteers, who worked throughout the pandemic to furnish as many clients as possible under difficult circumstances.
When Hurricane Ida struck in Fall 2021, with its devastating flooding, Furniture Sharehouse once again set up a temporary collection and distribution center in Mamaroneck, collecting furniture from local neighbors and raising funds to provide new mattresses and furniture to families who had lost everything.
On April 6, at the warehouse, a 15th Anniversary Reception to acknowledge and thank Westchester County and other elected officials, member agencies, community partners, generous donors and volunteers was held. A “Furnishing Hope” On-Line Auction Fundraiser was also held April 12 – 20.
A Furniture Drive sponsored by Corcoran Legends Realty with the students of Sleepy Hollow High School on Saturday, May 14th from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. will be held at Sleepy Hollow High School.
Visit www.furnituresharehouse.org for additional information.