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Pennsylvania Furniture Mission is changing lives throughout South Central Pennsylvania by creating warm and welcoming homes for people experiencing economic hardship or transitioning out of homelessness by providing free, gently-used furniture that clients get to select themselves at their Columbia warehouse.
“Food banks have shifted over the years from, ‘Here’s your box of food, and we hope you like it’ to ‘What would you like to cook with? What are you used to eating?’” co-founder Amanda Reilly-Sokoli explained. “With a furniture bank, we want to think about it the same way. Because if you do not have furniture in your space, and you get something for free, maybe on the curb and not sanitary, you are not able to take possession of that space and call it your own.”
“We want to give people that dignity of choice and give them the opportunity to handpick their furniture and turn their house into a home,” she said.
Amanda and her husband Pashk Sokoli both had previous experience working at the Chicago Furniture Bank and wanted to bring this model to South Central Pennsylvania, an underserved area.
Since they started in the summer of 2023, they have also been intentional about creating a family-like environment among the staff and volunteers at the Furniture Mission, providing jobs for people who have barriers to employment and may have trouble finding work, even through community connections.
Angel has been a part of their team since day one, doing pick-ups and deliveries, after meeting Amanda and Pashk through Water Street Mission, and David got connected with their team during his time at D.I.V.E.’s Residential Program.
“Amanda and I are trying to help the community in both ways—giving opportunities to people like David and Angel and serving the people that are brought to us as clients,” Pashk said. “I’m from Albania, and I was homeless in my country. I know how it feels when people look at you like, ‘Oh, just stay away from me,’ and we have to embrace people and respect each other no matter what.”
To partner with the Pennsylvania Furniture Mission, you can donate your gently-used furniture onsite or schedule a pick-up from their team. For a list of items you can donate, to support financially, or for more information on partnering with them, please visit pennsylvaniafurnituremission.org.