Home Again, with dignity: Non-profit helping those in need get back on their feet

A bed, a kitchen table and some chairs. Not much for some, but for others, they mean a world of difference.

In its 18 months, the organization has helped 400 people furnish their homes and make a fresh start

Andrew Brazil moves out of a St. John's homeless centre into his own apartment, with furniture thanks to Home Again. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

A bed to sleep on. A table to eat at. And a roof over your head.

Things that aren't considered necessities of life, perhaps, and which some people take for granted, but they can also mean dignity and independence for those in need.

That's the philosophy for Home Again Furniture Bank, a not-for-profit organization that delivers donated furniture to individuals and families who have gone through tough times.

"This is a big change. I don't know what to say," said Andrew Brazil, who until June was staying at a homeless shelter, as furniture is moved into his new apartment.

Andrew Brazil says he thought he'd have a bare apartment for weeks, but Home Again outfitted his new home with furniture to help him get back on his feet. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Brazil said he was on a four- to six-week waiting list in June, but it didn't take that long to get the furniture after one of the workers at the Wiseman Centre put him in contact with Home Again.

"Just last week I was at the shelter. It's a nice place, you've got breakfast and your dinner and your supper, everything is there … it's a great place for people in my position," said Brazil. "Now I have my own place."

It's a new beginning I guess.- Andrew Brazil

Originally from Bay Roberts, Brazil said he lost his job and apartment a few years ago after he broke his leg. He had no income and stayed with friends for months before signing up for social assistance to make ends meet, and moving into St. John's.

Two years later, and with help from the Wiseman Centre, he said he's finally getting back on track.

Workers at the Home Again warehouse in St. John's move a sofa to get it ready to go to its new home. For a $25 fee, Home Again will pick up gently-used furniture from non-smoking and pet-free homes. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"It hasn't been easy," he said, adding he's thankful for all the help he's received along the way. "Just two weeks ago I didn't have no apartment, no furniture, nothing, right? It's coming along."

Brazil is hopeful that, by November, all the resumes he's starting to hand out will turn into a job.

'It's amazing'

For Sean Murphy, the circumstances around how he came to find Home Again were different than Brazil's, but the assistance is just as life-changing.

Sean Murphy couldn't have his three kids spend the night because he couldn't afford to buy new furniture. But Home Again found him beds for him and his kids. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Murphy — a single dad of a girl, 11, a boy, 7, and another girl, 4 — said back in April his life took a turn. He worked at HMV, but when the music and video store closed, he lost his job. A few days later, he and his partner separated.

NL Housing found him accommodations fairly quickly, but Murphy said he just had a single air mattress, so on weeks when he had his children, they would have to sleep at his parents' house.

But now the three kids will get to stay with him.

"They're all pretty excited that they're gonna get a sleepover at dad's … I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Workers with Home Again bring furniture into Sean Murphy's new apartment, so he and his kids can live there comfortably. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"It's amazing. I was actually struggling to find beds for my kids, I just can't afford anything right now. Kijiji kinda helps in a way, but a lot of times with furniture and mattresses and sofas and stuff you've got to be careful with bed bugs."

'The numbers are astounding'

Home Again launched in St. John's in October 2015 and in its 18 months, has collected gently-used and cleaned household items and furniture, from non-smoking, pet-free homes, to help hundreds of people.

"The numbers are astounding," said Amy Tulk, one of Home Again's directors of development.

Amy Tulk, left, and Maureen Lymburner, with Home Again, say the number of people who access the furniture assistance program shows there is a big need in the community. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"We've delivered to over 400 people. We've collected furniture from over 350 homes and the furniture that we've collected is equivalent to 131 tonnes of furniture diverted from the landfill."

Clients need a range of items, from larger furniture, such as sofas and beds, to household items and linens.

'I am very grateful'

"The numbers alone speak to the need," said Maureen Lymburner, Home Again's other director of development.

"People are struggling not only to create homes but to move on with their next steps. The need is not only among the people we serve, but also our referral agents, because they didn't have resources to refer their clients to, and now we provide that, another option for them."

Sean Murphy, seen here with Home Again's Maureen Lymburner, says the not-for-profit made his house a home, making him and his kids comfortable again. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

For clients like Murphy and Brazil, Home Again has made all the difference.

"I couldn't be more thankful and I am very grateful, and I would recommend Home Again to anybody," Murphy said.

"I'm speechless," Brazil said. "It's a new beginning I guess."

With files from Carolyn Stokes