CINCINNATI — Every truck that leaves the New Life Furniture Bank means a fresh start for two or three families in the Cincinnati-area.

Each brings a bed, a kitchen table, a dresser, a shelf, the basics anyone may need to turn a new house into a home.

For many of New Life’s clients, this could be their first chance.

What You Need To Know

  • New Life Furniture Bank furnishes homes for families coming out of homelessness of sheltering situations
  • The organization served nearly 100 more families in 2020 than expected

  • New Life needs furniture and supply donations to keep up with surge in demand

Kenn Sedziol is a long-time volunteer, often packing household goods, the final box that goes on New Life’s trucks.

“When the virus isn’t on, groups do all of this,” he said. “Groups of five, 10, 20 will do all of this.”

These days, Sedziol’s shift is just him and his wife.

They pack boxes of plates, cups, silverware and cookware for about four families a day. And then he packs linens, sheets, comforters, towels, blankets and pillows.

“These families need everything,” he said.

As the pandemic has worn on, Sedziol said his shifts have gotten busier.

The furniture bank is serving more families than ever.

The organization planned to deliver to about 1,000 families in 2020, according to New Life's Executive Director Dana Saxton.

Increased demand means they’re on pace to exceed that number by about 100.

Saxton said ending homelessness doesn’t stop when families find a home.

New Life’s mission is about addressing that next step, ensuring people have the essentials to make their household livable.

“Most of these families are coming from a sheltering situation with literally a bag of clothes and nothing else so whatever we can provide to be able to help them in their new home when they first move in is a great blessing,” she said.

Unfortunately, donations haven’t kept pace.

Sedziol said his list of what he can include in his household boxes is getting smaller and smaller while the shelves at the warehouse are getting emptier and emptier.

“These are all numbers going towards zero because we don’t have enough,” he said.

The furniture bank is running low on just about everything, but members of the organization said furniture is their top priority.

“Shelving units which sometimes we’ll substitute for a dresser when we don’t have any dressers at least it’s something that they may be able to put some clothing in but right now I don’t even see any shelving units left,” Saxton said walking through her warehouse. “We are completely out of anything that can be used as a dresser.”

She also said couches and coffee tables are running low.

Volunteers are coming in to build new tables. But with smaller groups, it’s difficult to keep up with the rising demand.

Saxton said the furniture bank has to count on the community to deliver.

Sedziol set up a furniture drive at work and collected a few coffee tables and dressers.

He said he tries to do one of these every few months, using his volunteer hours to discover exactly what New Life’s clients need.

“We actually started volunteering at New Life when they turned down a donation of ours because it was too big and heavy,” he said.

Many of the furniture bank’s clients live in smaller homes that may not be able to accommodate oversized furniture like large sectionals.

Everything needs to be able to fit on New Life’s trucks. They stop by to pick up large donations.

As the holidays approach, Saxton said New Life is delivering to about six families a day and if they don’t have the donations, those families simply get whatever the bank has available.

She’s happy to provide whatever they can but Saxton said she always wants to give a full truckload.

She said when these families have worked so hard to find homes, filling it should be the least of their worries.