Roanoke College gives residence hall furniture to help homeless families
Roanoke College recently donated several thousand dollars' worth of used furniture to a local charity that helps homeless families in the Roanoke Valley.
This summer, Roanoke converted the double rooms in Bowman Hall, a campus residence building, to single rooms. The change left each room with extra furniture.
Roanoke decided to donate these extra pieces to Family Promise of Greater Roanoke, which formerly was the Roanoke Valley Interfaith Hospitality Network.
"There are people out there in need," said Mike Vaught, manager of plant operations at Roanoke. "We definitely don't want to throw it away."
Family Promise is a network of religious organizations that helps homeless families by providing them with food, skills development and temporary housing.
Roanoke's furniture donation included twin mattresses, mattress frames, dressers and desks, totaling about 160 items. In all, the College donated about $6,000 worth of furniture, said Mark Noftsinger, vice president of business affairs at Roanoke.
Katie Elmore, a Roanoke professor of education and vice president of Family Promise, is in charge of collecting and distributing all of the furniture donations that the charity receives. She gathers furniture year round and stores it in the garage at her Salem home. When families complete the program, she gives them furniture.
"Most of our families enter the program with very few personal possessions," Elmore said. "They need our help to get started again."
Fifteen volunteers spent the afternoon on Aug. 10 moving furniture out of Bowman Hall and into Elmore's garage. Seven of the volunteers have Roanoke connections, including two college professors, a staff member, a current student and three graduates.
The volunteers included Jack Hart '16 and his brothers, DW Hart '06 and Joe Hart, Laura Hart '06, Meredith Lovegrove '83, Linda Addington and Dr. Elizabeth Holbrook, an assistant professor of health and human performance at Roanoke.
"While moving furniture, I was able to spend some time with a local father whose family would be receiving a donation of four beds, a desk and a dresser or two," Holbrook said. "This man and his family...had just moved into an apartment. His four young children were sleeping on the floor."
Roanoke's furniture donation made an instant and dramatic impact on this family's life.
"It is a rare opportunity to be able to affect local families so directly," Holbrook said.
Family Promise of Greater Roanoke is an affiliate of Family Promise, a national charity with 177 networks in the United States. It helps homeless families in need of food and transportation. The Roanoke Valley group is the only chapter in Virginia, and it was founded in 1997. More than 1,000 volunteers participate annually with this chapter.
Since its inception, the charity has worked with 348 families (629 children and 549 adults).
Its work has proven successful. Of the total families the organization has helped, 70 percent now are off the street and living in homes or apartments. Also, 70 percent of the adults have found jobs.
The chapter's success rates are higher than national averages for other similar programs.
"My greatest joy working with this program is watching the families go through the program and come out the other side," Elmore said.
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