116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Catherine McAuley Center partners with nonprofit for refugee furniture
Partnership frees up labor for other programming
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Catherine McAuley Center announced a new partnership Thursday to furnish new homes for refugee families.
The refugee resettlement agency’s partnership with nonprofit Central Furniture Rescue will help save 30 to 40 hours of labor each week at the Catherine McAuley Center, which has welcomed 312 arrivals in the Cedar Rapids area in the last year since Afghan refugees started arriving in October 2021.
The new partnership comes in part after the influx of Afghan arrivals tested the Catherine McAuley Center’s capacities in new ways. Previously, the organization took direct donations of furniture, sorted them and distributed them to refugee families in need.
Mitch Geers, supplemental services manager for the Catherine McAuley Center, said the arrivals exacerbated an already difficult task for the organization that had no dedicated staff for sorting and moving furniture donations.
“Over the winter, when Afghan families began moving into housing, there were only a few of us who could go pick up furniture donations two to three times per week, on top of supporting all of the other needs of a newly resettled family,” he said. “Doing one or two pickups would take half a day, then one to two hours to unload into storage, and a few days later, repeating those steps to move furniture into a family’s home.”
Through the new partnership, McAuley clients will still have access to essential household items donated by community members while expanding McAuley’s capacity to provide core educational and supportive services for immigrants and women healing from trauma.
The new partnership means the organization’s time investment to get furniture into a new family’s home is about 30 to 45 minutes. Geers said about two to three families each week, on average, receive furniture as they move into permanent housing.
In addition to sorting through furniture donations from the public, Central Furniture Rescue helps select the right furniture for the layout and size of each family’s new home. As in the past, the community can donate beds, dining tables, couches, chairs and more items of need to Central Furniture Rescue, 2275 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids.
“(Central Furniture Rescue) is already the centralized furniture location for nonprofits who help with housing. We are thrilled to add (the Catherine McAuley Center) to our list of partners,” said Susan Johnston, executive director of the nonprofit Central Furniture Rescue. “Since our inception in 2019, we have helped turn a place to live into a home for over 1,500 households — a great example of community helping community.”
With a core group of about 30 people, Central Furniture Rescue organizes donations completely through volunteer help.
That frees up McAuley staffers like Geers to focus on things like the refugee nonprofit’s food pantry. And for those receiving the furniture, it’s a fresh start in a new home.
“The furniture is ready in the house before they get there. They just have all the basic needs to settle and get ready to take care of all the other things that need to happen,” Geers said.
Central Furniture Rescue accepts donations on Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the last Saturday of each month. You also can donate by appointment by calling (319) 382-2882. For more information on how to donate, visit centralfurniturerescue.org.
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