116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Susan Johnston has been turning houses into homes since 2019. Now Central Furniture Rescue, the nonprofit she runs in Cedar Rapids, is finally getting a permanent home of its own.
Volunteers will be helping Central Furniture Rescue move Friday and Saturday from 407 Ninth Ave. SE to a new warehouse at 2275 16th Ave. SW, where it has a five-year lease.
The nonprofit works with other organizations to provide furniture for people transitioning into housing after being homeless or being in an abusive relationship.
Johnston said she is relieved to finally have a permanent place for Central Furniture rescue, which she founded in 2019.
“We can get comfortable, and we can set policy, and we can set procedure, and we can go home,” she said.
When Johnston first started collecting furniture to give away, she was working out of six garages in three locations. After gaining nonprofit status in September 2019, the organization moved into its first warehouse. This will be the organization’s sixth move.
“You’re moving a furniture store every single time … and it’s just a lot of work,” Johnston said. “One thing about it is I realized how our clients must feel, never knowing. At any given time, I could get a phone call or an email with a 60-day notice … so I couldn’t focus more than a month at a time.”
In 2021, Central Furniture Rescue provided furniture to 473 households, up from 422 in 2020 and 227 in 2019.
Johnston said she hopes having a permanent location will provide more stability and help the organization reach even more families.
Given all the relocations, Johnston knows how to organize a move.
Once she knew about the latest move, she stopped accepting donations at the Ninth Avenue location and started placing as much furniture as possible in the new warehouse. The nonprofit began accepting donations at the new location in January.
“Throughout last year, our continuous prayer was permanency,” Johnston said. “I would talk to anybody and everybody about permanency.
“And then I met Jeff and Connie Palmer, who just happened to have some money that they needed to invest, and they fell in love with what we do.”
The Palmers bought the warehouse, which formerly housed the Old China Buffet, on Dec. 31 and will rent it to the nonprofit on a five- year lease.
Johnston said the Palmers made sure she had everything she needed to turn the former restaurant into a furniture warehouse.
The building has plenty of space, and it really opened up after they removed the buffet and other restaurant furniture, Johnston said. Also, a separate building behind the warehouse is now connected to the warehouse.
“One of the things we say about our clients is that we’re turning a place to live into a home,” Johnston said. ”Well, we’re turning a restaurant into a home, for us.“
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