Re-nesting Project helps with transition to new homePosted on August 12th, 2010.
Asbury United Methodist Re-nesting Project helps transition families to new home, better life
Renesting. It’s a concept Noel Haacker, a member of Asbury United Methodist Church, had been stewing over for quite sometime.
“I finally realized what I needed to do,” Haacker said. “I’m an interior designer by profession and I kept seeing people getting rid of things and they would ask what to do with it.”
Haacker said although there are agencies where people can buy things and other agencies that provide housing assistance, there seemed to be a void, or gap, in between.
The gap: getting furniture and other items to those people leaving the shelters and moving those things into their new homes.
“So I decided that’s what I needed to do,” Haacker said. “I named it the Renesting Project and went to the church and said, ‘I believe God has led me to do this.’”
Asbury began the first phase of the Renesting Project in January, with the purpose of gathering and providing reclaimed furniture and household goods to help people in the community transition from homelessness.
“The YWCA was our first renesting group and then we connected with the homeless veterans program,” Haacker said. “Then there was the Fuller Center and now the Providence House.”
Sabrina Ruano, 24, knows first-hand how helpful the project can be.
Ruano moved into an apartment in June after having lived at the Providence House for six months.
After moving to Shreveport following Hurricane Katrina and living with her mother for a while, Ruano had dreams of moving into her own apartment with her two young children.
Her dreams were shattered after she was raped and she ended up at the Providence House.
“I moved to the Providence House so I could get my mind straight,” Ruano said.
That was in December.
But after a few months, Ruano wanted her own place.
“The last two months I’ve been trying to get out of there, but we had to wait for an apartment to become available,” she said.
In June, Ruano’s dream came true and she finally was able to move into an apartment.
“All of the furniture, the TV, it all came from donations,” she said. “Even the clocks on the walls.”
When renesting, volunteers use not only items that were donated to the church but also items that have been donated to the different agencies.
In Ruano’s case, volunteers with the Renesting Project picked out furniture that had been donated to the Providence House, loaded it up on a truck and moved it into the apartment.
Items provided by the renesters included a microwave oven, kitchen supplies, toiletries, linens, shower curtain, wall pictures and other furnishings.
In some instances, the volunteers provide families with new items.
“We’re not sending used bed pillows, so if we don’t have bed pillows we buy them,” Haacker said. “We ask that people donate new pillows and most of them do.”
“They brought these brand-new beddings for the kids’ beds and my bed,” Ruano said. “And I have a Tempur-Pedic pillow!”
Norma Belton, director of programs and shelter operations at Providence House, said having the opportunity to work with the Renesting volunteers has been a blessing.
“Normally, what we would do is take the furniture and set it up (in the apartment), and then the families would come in and personalize it with flowers, pictures and stuff like that,” she said. “Well, working with the Renesting Project, that’s what they do for the families. They come in and arrange the furniture in the house and decorate it.”
The only thing the family has to do, Belton added, is move their clothing into the home.
Haacker said the way the program works is the agency faxes its needs and then the volunteers go out and renest, or decorate, the apartment.
“We go and inspect it (apartment) and make sure it’s one we feel we can get to and do,” Haacker said. “And we load the stuff up and deliver it and place it.”
When the volunteers are finished with the apartment, they leave a vase with fresh flowers in it and a welcome mat at the front door.
“We only can give what we have, so sometimes we have everything and sometimes we don’t,” Haacker said.
Ruano said the volunteers thought of things she never would have thought of before moving into the apartment, including zipper bags, aluminum foil, trash bags and trash cans and laundry bags.
“When I first stepped in here, it didn’t seem like an apartment and they made it into a home.”
Ruano said the volunteers also arranged the furniture and set everything up.
“They asked me what colors I like and I told them I like really calm, peaceful colors, nothing too bright or anything,” she said. “They made everything match.”
Haacker said the project has grown significantly.
“And people are bringing stuff faster that I ever dreamed,” she said. “It’s just spread by word of mouth.”
Even though renesting is an Asbury project, Haacker said it’s open to the community.
“People in Shreveport and Bossier have joined us,” she said.
Church member Angela Pfanner said there are about 50 volunteers.
“It continues to grow and somehow it just comes together,” she said.
“It’s like a claw that grabs you,” Haacker said. “Once you get to go out on one of the renestings and set the apartment up and then you get feedback … and how much that meant and you think, yeah, we’ll do it again.”
Pfanner said, “We are just the conduit that filters it back out. It’s the best middleman job I’ve ever had. All that’s required is time and effort and a giving heart.”
“I have everything I need. I haven’t had to go to the store for anything except for food. They even left a broom,” Ruano said.
“They pay attention to every little detail to make it as convenient for a new family as possible and it’s less stressful,” Belton said.
“We never know from week to week what’s coming, but somehow by the grace of God it just works,” Haacker said.