It is hard for me to fathom that Project Home Again has just turned 15! Back in 2003, I was a mother with young children and had never thought about starting a non-profit. Now I am an empty nester and PHA has helped over 10,000 families furnish their homes.
Over the years, I have learned a great deal, but one of the things that has become most clear is that PHA serves a number of purposes and they are each important in their own right. The most obvious is that we help our clients turn their houses into homes. There is no way to over emphasize the power of “the kindness of strangers” – our clients often come in feeling shy and like the world is a cold place. But just as often, they leave feeling lucky and cared for and see that their future might be brighter than they had imagined.
PHA is also an important place for those who want to give of themselves to others. A number of our volunteers have told me that they had spent a good amount of time looking for a way to give back to others, but found it difficult to do so. Because we are so flexible with the commitment we require (which is none!) and the variety of ways there are to help, our volunteers can easily find just the right opportunity to help those in need. To watch those who choose to work with our clients is a transformative experience – love becomes a two way street, and I feel privileged to be able to witness it.
Lastly, we could not do what we do without our donors. But once again, there is often much more than just a bunch of furniture being dropped of going on when it comes to receiving donations. Quite often there is a great deal of emotion attached to the items that are donated. When children are cleaning out their recently deceased parent’s home, donors have told us that is eased their pain by knowing someone in need would once again care for their parent’s belongings. Sometimes a parent is reluctantly dropping off a crib or other baby items that have been recently outgrown, but witnessing a struggling young family smile with glee and relief as they load it into a car to take home to keep another child safe and healthy can quickly erase that reluctance.
People often ask me if I am proud of myself for creating Project Home Again. The honest answer is no. I am proud of what PHA has become – a place where our clients, volunteers, and donors can all find exactly what they need.
Nancy Kanell, Founder