Inforum: Nearly 700 local families helped this year through Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley
This is a story covered by Kevin Wallevand at WDAY in Fargo, ND reported initially on Wednesday, November 29th 2023. Our intent is to preserve this story on our website because of how meaningful it is to us. To read the story published on InForum.com, Click Here.
FARGO — Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley has only been around for three years but the nonprofit has already helped nearly 2,000 families here get back on their feet by helping them get an apartment or home furnished with the very basics.
And volunteers make it all possible.
It's almost as if you just entered a Christmas elves workshop. At Furniture Mission in Fargo on Wednesday, Nov. 29, volunteers Dewey Uhlir and Eva Waslaski are building, repairing and painting tables for clients who will soon be coming through the doors. Wednesday is busy.
"Yep, so today we have 23 families on the schedule to come in and receive furniture," said Jordan McCormick, Furniture Mission's executive director
McCormick oversees this finely-tuned machine at 2600 Third Ave. N. An old boat factory and sandbag warehouse now changes the lives of people who are starting from scratch.
"The common denominator we see is, starting over. There's no one answer, there's no silver bullet," McCormick said.
People like Angelique Brown of Fargo just moved into a place after dealing with homelessness.
"Everything. I had to start completely over," Brown said. "My kids, I had to give them to my mom since July until I found a new place and I needed furniture to get them back home to me, so I came and got beds, furniture, blankets for my kids, everything. An amazing experience."
People can't just come in off the street and get furniture. Referrals are needed.
Dakota Koros has a unique perspective. "Meth has caused me to lose everything multiple times," Koros said.
As part of his recovery program at Share House, Koros has been working at Furniture Mission, and soon he will be done with his treatment program.
"I basically own clothes, so I'm definitely going to probably come through here and get the things I need for my apartment when I'm ready," Koros said.
For these 20 to 30 volunteers, helping local families get back on their feet, some even find it hard to talk about.
"Kind of emotional, I feel so blessed in my life if I can serve people who have had difficult circumstances," Uhlir said.
For Brown, she has her children back and a home with tables and chairs and beds. It's a different Christmas season for her.
"I think Christmas is going to be the best it's been in years," she said.
While there are 20 to 30 volunteers right now, more are needed.
This post is adapted form a story originally posted by AARP ND. Find the complete version by Clicking Here.
Evert Van Engelenhoven, founder of Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley (FMRRV), is the recipient of the 2023 AARP Andrus Award for Community Service – AARP’s most prestigious volunteer award.
The award recognizes outstanding community service and symbolizes that individuals age 50 and older have the power and ability to make a difference in the lives of others. The award is given to just one North Dakotan annually and includes a $1,000 donation to a charitable organization chosen by the recipient.
Van Engelenhoven accepted the award during the 2023 AARP ND Volunteer Recognition Event in Fargo on Oct. 25. AARP North Dakota will donate $1,000 to the FMRRV in his name.
Van Engelenhoven, who worked in the insurance industry for 52 years before retiring, established FMRRV in 2019 to provide gently used furniture to people in crisis. In its first year of operation, FMRRV provided 130 families with furniture. Since 2020, 1,500 local families and individuals in crisis have received more than 17,000 pieces of furniture.
“I’ve always been of the attitude if you’ve been blessed, you have the obligation to help people. I try to live that. If you have, you need to share,” Van Engelenhoven says.
Jordan McCormick, FMRRV’s executive director, nominated Van Engelenhoven for the award. He says the organization’s clients range from young families to older people, including veterans transitioning from homeless to homed. Items like lift chairs, supportive beds and other pieces that empower the active aging community are a focus. “Many of our volunteers are seniors themselves and are especially helpful in encouraging our clients to consider these types of things when selecting the furniture they choose,” says McCormick.
At age 81, Van Engelenhoven volunteers 30 to 40 hours each week with FMRRV and encourages people to spend their retirement years pursuing a purpose that adds value to their communities.
McCormick notes, “He is truly a humble servant.”
“[Van Engelenhoven] does it for all the right reasons. He leads with his heart and shows up with hands that are willing to serve everyday…. He never asks for recognition… He wants the people around him to receive the credit for the impact we’re all making,” McCormick says.
Thanksgiving reminds us to count our blessings and give thanks for everything and everyone that adds value to our lives. At Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley, it's no different.
We are thankful for an incredible team from our neighbors over at Dakota Supply Group, who helped us with a much needed warehouse inventory audit. Not only did they tackle the task with enthusiasm, but followed up with providing some light bulbs for our welcome area and a box of gloves for our volunteers to protect against cuts and pokes! Check out the video recap of their time with us by Clicking Here!
There are certainly many more we are thankful for, but we'll leave you with this - as you look at what bring value to your life, pause and give thanks to the people around you and to our loving God, through which all things are possible.
"Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34
September was a spectacular month at Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley! We not only surpassed a tremendous milestone, but had the opportunity to celebrate it by lifting up our warehouse with our community. We were also able to partner with local company on a new promotion to support kids in our community, and through that have the opportunity to share our mission with a local news station. Like I started – September was SPECTACULAR!
Surpassing 1,000 households served in just over 2 years of operating speaks volumes. It speaks to the need in our community, and the support that we provide not only to these families directly but to the agencies they are referred from. It speaks to the countless hours put forth by our incredible team of volunteers dedicated to serving with compassion and respect. It also speaks to our roots as a Christian based organization, knowing that it’s only through Him that we’re able to respond to the demand for our services in the way we have. As we pray for the households we serve, we know God will be our guide in responding as a growing organization.
We also celebrated by inviting our friends from the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon cutting! We had over 50 members of our community stop by the warehouse to learn a little more about our mission and the critical role we play. It’s always such a pleasure to share our work with leaders in our community, and celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far. We even had our friends at Ain’t Dutch Productions on hand to capture the day and prepare a wonderful video! Find it on our Facebook page by Clicking Here!
Finally, we partnered with the fine folks at Comfort King Mattress Factory for their Soft Spot For Kids promotion, where any mattress purchased over during the promotion resulted in a donated bed for a kids in our community. From it, we received 18 beds for distribute to kids who need them. We even got to be guests on ND Today, where we lifted up our mission and met NDSU quarterback and Comfort King spokesperson Cam Miller! It was a fabulous opportunity, and we’re so grateful to Comfort King for their support and partnership.
September was a spectacular month at Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley. It’s inspiring to see how our community continues to rally around our mission, and I am so grateful to work alongside so many passionate volunteers and community stakeholders. If you feel called to do so, you can support us by donating furniture (call 701.729.1410 to get on our pick up schedule, or drop off during warehouse hours), donating financially (click here to give online), or by stepping up as a volunteer (click here to submit a volunteer application).
Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley
Furniture Mission recently received a furniture donation which included a number of wall hangings. One of the wall hangings was a limited edition print. Somehow the glass got broken. I took it to a place called FRAME-KRAFT on Fiechtner Drive and talked to a delightful lady by the name of Pam Kraft who just happened to be the owner. I told her who I was and about Furniture Mission. She very quickly agreed to repair the print free of charge. I picked up the print on Friday. What a professional job!
It's little things like this that warms your heart.
Next time you need some framework done think of Pam Kraft of FRAME-KRAFT at 3415 Fiechtner Drive, Fargo, ND 58103, 701-232-5111.
-Evert Van Engelenhoven, Board President
This is where you can find stories, shoutouts, and more from throughout the FMRRV community! These will be from staff, board members, volunteers, or community members who have a unique perspective on our work or how we serve.
We are a faith-based organization that accepts gently-used furniture donations and re-gifts the furniture to people coming out of crisis.
PO. Box 7337 Fargo, ND 58106
2600 3rd Avenue North, Fargo, ND 58102