HUDSON – Fresh Start Furniture Bank in Hudson celebrated a boost of federal money with local legislators and volunteers on Saturday.
This check presentation came just a matter of days after Fresh Start issued an urgent call for donations to support its mission of providing furniture and household goods to individuals in need.
“We are pretty much in crisis mode,” the furniture bank wrote in a post to social media on Wednesday.
Fresh Start faces surge in demand
Fresh Start has aided in ongoing refugee resettlement programs since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year. It now anticipates working with at least 100 Afghan refugees this month and is bracing for a possible additional influx of refugees displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Fresh Start then continues to work with between 10 and 15 local families each week.
These families include individuals escaping domestic violence situations, coming out of shelters or halfway houses, or recovering from fires or other natural disasters, among other things.
“We are not losing sight of the fact that we’re here to help our local families,” co-founder Sue Waudby told the Community Advocate.
Altogether, this means individual appointment slots have been consistently booked since the beginning of the year. A waiting list, meanwhile, has consistently stretched to include 75 additional families.
The increase in demand comes just as the furniture bank experiences an annual downturn in donations due to a mix of reasons in the winter months.
“We moved so much out of the store and now we only have these few lonely pieces left,” that aforementioned social media post noted.
Fresh Start regularly gets funding through the state’s annual budget process.
This year, though, legislators were able to secure an extra $100,000 in earmarked funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Gov. Baker signed state legislation finalizing that allocation last year. This weekend’s event then celebrated the aid.
“They’re amazing,” Rep. Kate Hogan said of the Fresh Start team.
She was in attendance on Saturday alongside Sen. Jamie Eldridge and an outreach liaison from US Rep. Lori Trahan’s office.
The ARPA money will specifically help purchase mattresses, which can be in short supply at Fresh Start even when other supplies are more plentiful.
For this, Waudby said, she is grateful.
“We’re trying to solve the problems of, how do you get these people out of poverty, and how do you make them productive citizens, but sometimes we don’t always have that funding to do it,” she said.
How to help
Fresh Start Furniture Bank is continually accepting donations and volunteer service.
Those interested can learn more about the furniture bank’s needs from week to week by visiting their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FreshStartFurnitureBank.
There is additional information available online at https://freshstartfurniturebank.org.
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