​One could wonder, why would Redwood start its own Furniture Bank?  We’ve got not just one good reason, but two. 
1. To meet a need in our community Whenever one of our friends moves out of one of our United House or Second Suites units into their permanent housing we do our best to help them set their new house up like a home: we put out a call for furniture, have volunteers drive around town to pick up donations, usually after hours, and often have to store it temporarily and then move it to the new location. While this is a labour of love for our friends, as we add more units, it is not a sustainable model. We needed a way to continue to provide this service but without so much strain on our Family Support Team and volunteers.  2. To increase sustainability through Social Enterprise We have been learning a lot about social enterprise at Redwood in the last couple of years. Charities have long been beholden to funders, and while funding is good, there is a growing movement that social enterprise is even better as it provides a sustainable revenue stream while also solving a social problem.  The Redwood Furniture Bank is providing:
  • A service to people with unwanted furniture, a service they normally pay for as junk removal.
  • Employment and job training opportunities in the warehouse to people who may otherwise face barriers to employment.
  • Low-cost furniture to individuals and families who can’t afford retail prices to furnish their home, allowing them to help make their housing more hopeful. 
  • Diversion of furniture from landfills.
  • The opportunity for Redwood’s Support Team to get out of the furniture moving business, and focus on supporting our friends.
  • A revenue stream for Redwood that can help fund our affordable housing initiatives.
​ In other words, it’s win-win-win-win-win-win. And we are just getting started! Once we get the kinks worked out, we look forward to social procurement opportunities that we’ll share more about later.  A little help from Georgian College Honours Bachelor of Business Administration – Management & Leadership program students worked with Dan Kershaw from Furniture Bank Toronto and our Tim Kent to explore the feasibility of this innovative social enterprise. As part of their program of study, students worked on this business opportunity, researching options that would benefit both Georgian College students and the community, while addressing affordable housing. Students presented their research to college and community stakeholders in April and had the opportunity to also present at Georgian’s Research Innovation Scholarship and Entrepreneurship (RISE) day in April where they were recognized by winning the People’s Choice Award! The team was so inspired by the mission of the Redwood Furniture Bank, they donated their $150 prize to help fund the start up. Thanks Jordan, Josh, Connor, and their professor Kelly for your work on this, and for donating your prize money back to help the Furniture Bank start successfully. We are inspired by you, too!
SENCO Through our connections at Georgian, we have been able to join the Social Enterprise Network of Central Ontario (SENCO) and benefit from their support and mentorship. SENCO hosted The Social Impact Gathering this week, June 3 & 4, 2019, at Five Points Theatre here in Barrie. Tim and Dan were featured in a case study session on Redwood Furniture Bank. We are also very inspired by Shaun Loney, a social enterprise champion, who took part in this session with Tim and Dan, too. We’re giving Shaun the tour of Redwood’s sites today! 
How you can help We are looking for furniture to stock our furniture bank! Go to the Furniture Bank page to learn how to arrange a pick up, and together we will help make people’s housing more hopeful.