How decluttering your home can help Edmonton's homeless

Decluttering can make your home more liveable, but with the help of Find in south Edmonton, it can also help people transitioning from homelessness.

'I’m happy I have furniture now. No more crawling on the floor'

David Lopez is general manager at Find at 5120 122nd Street in south Edmonton. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Margaret Ward walks the aisles of Find picking out a loveseat, chair, table and knick-knacks for her new place. 

"When you cannot afford any furniture or anything for your home here we are, it helps," said the 32-year-old expectant mother, originally from High Prairie.

"I'm happy I have furniture now. No more crawling on the floor and trying to get up," said Ward, whose baby is due in August.
Nancy Peekeekoot, left, and Margaret Ward are all smiles after picking out furniture at Find. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Find was established a decade ago by the non-profit social agency Homeward Trust. It provides donated furniture free to people moving out of homelessness, and at low cost to the public.

Ward combs through the 22,000-square-foot space and donation centre at 5120 122nd St. with Nancy Peekeekoot, wellness coordinator at Pregnancy Pathways, which helps pregnant women in need.

Ward left an abusive relationship with nothing and credits Peekeekoot with getting her off the streets and into one of the 11 suites in the Pathways program.

Check out what happens at FIND furniture bank in Edmonton. 2:26

"Watching her pick out furniture is very exciting," Peekeekoot said.

The furniture will help Ward set up a home that will be comfortable and safe, "something that she'll want to continue to go back to," Peekeekoot said.

Diane Thrasher, housing first administrator at Find, helps at least six homeless people a day pick out furnishings.

"It's very fun," she said. "I have a great job, I must say.

Diane Thrasher is administrator with Housing First which helps connect formerly homeless people with the furniture needed for a fresh start. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

"You hear a lot of stories from the people that come in and some of them are really scared in the beginning … but by the end of the pick that we do with them, they're smiling, some are crying. It's wonderful and I go home feeling happy."

Thrasher knows how hard it is to transition to your own place.

Her father struggled through addiction and "preferred to live on the street."

"I saw how he changed, got his life turned around and when he passed away he was 37 years clean, off the streets," Thrasher said.

Thrasher ensures Ward has a new mattress, crib and 32-inch TV to  be loaded into a delivery truck alongside the items she's selected.

Find sells furniture, household items, books and records at low cost to the general public. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Demand for their service is high, said Find general manager David Lopez.

"Last year we furnished over 1,400 homes and as much as we would like that number to be going down we actually need to do more," Lopez said.

But it's the generous donations from the public that make the service possible, Lopez said.

And it turns out Find is getting some help in their quest for donations from a Japanese tidying expert and her popular Netflix program encouraging people to purge.

"I think part of it is the whole Marie Kondo movement of decluttering. We're happy to accept stuff that doesn't bring you joy anymore cause it brings our clients a lot of joy," Lopez said.

You can see more from Find Edmonton on Our Edmonton Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at noon and 11 a.m. Monday on CBC TV.
Staff at Find coordinate furniture pick-ups and deliveries for the day. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

About the Author

Adrienne Lamb is an award-winning journalist based in Edmonton. She's the host and producer of Our Edmonton featured weekly on CBC TV. Adrienne has spent the last couple of decades telling stories across Canada.


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