Silver Linings: True Stories During the COVID 19 Pandemic

Shelter to Home is a volunteer organization that provides furniture and household goods, free of charge, to people in need, on Vancouver’s North Shore. Over 12 years we’ve assisted 1700 people as they established new homes after a difficult period in their lives. We work in cooperation with North Shore agencies which assist people in need, including Lookout Homeless Shelter, Women’s North Shore Crisis Center and its residence, Sage House, Hollyburn Seniors’ and Family Services, Vancouver Coastal, Health, Canadian Mental Health Association, and others.

COVID 19 brought our program to a halt. Social distancing meant that we could not go into homes of donors to assess the furniture they had to offer. It also meant that we could not invite clients into our small storage facility to choose what they needed. Since March 14, 2020, we have received no donations of gently used furniture, electrical appliances. dishes, pots and pans etc. from the community.

Then a wonderful thing happened. Shelter to Home is a member of the Furniture Bank Network (FBN), a network of furniture banks across Canada. Dan Kershaw, chair of FNB and Annalee Sawiak, CEO of Furniture Link, which facilitates connections between business, government and non-profit organizations, to power the Circular Economy for social good, were approached by IKEA to assist them to distribute donated goods, on a national basis in response to the COVID 19 crisis. Right in the middle of this pandemic their work came to fruition. IKEA donated $2,000,000 worth of furniture and household goods to Furniture Banks across the country, and Shelter to Home was one of two BC Furniture Banks to be included in this donation. Shelter to Home received $25,000 worth of couches, beds, dining tables and chairs, bed linens, dishes, cutlery, pots and pans and more. With our church closed due to COVID 19, our Shelter to Home team received this incredible donation on May 26th and the Church gym became a workshop. A team of 8 people began building couches, beds and tables. A team of 3 assembled household goods, requested by clients, into big IKEA bins. And then clients and moving companies started arriving to take away the contents of our clients’ new homes. We have already been able to fill the requests of 9 households!!

The Shelter to Home team is filled with gratitude for this unique donation from IKEA, and to the people from IKEA, Furniture Bank Network and Furniture Link, who made this all happen. We are also in deep appreciation for our team of volunteers, who put in countless hours assembling furniture, working with clients, and organizing the project in a safe way.

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing posts here on our blog and on our Facebook page, about stories of people that to us are other “silver linings” during this time. We hope you enjoy reading them.