Down 7th Avenue in Ybor, Tampa’s Famous Historic District, there’s a mid-sized nondescript building that serves as the warehouse for Home Makers of Hope. But don’t let the everyday building exterior fool you; inside the warehouse, there’s a buzz of volunteers on a mission. Home Makers of Hope (HMOH) is a nonprofit organization that provides home goods for families experiencing poverty throughout the Tampa Bay area, aligning with their mission that “no child should be sleeping on the floor.” This modest warehouse is where Joanna Jewell, ReEmployAbility’s Communications and Public Relations Specialist, went to volunteer for the day.
ReEmployAbility offers all its employees two days to volunteer at an organization of their choosing; this allows ReEmployAbility employees to continue to give back to their community and highlight the importance of volunteerism. The ReEmployAbility Transition2Work program is grateful to partner with over 45,000 Nonprofit organizations nationwide. Every day, ReEmployAbility finds meaningful light-duty work for injured workers at nonprofit organizations. ReEmployAbility employees know just how important volunteerism is to their company mission, so much so that ReEmployAbility actively encourages all employees to participate in its company-sponsored volunteer opportunities!
Getting to Work
Arriving early in the morning, Jewell got right to work after a brief orientation with other volunteers, pulling pillows, comforters, lamps, tables, pots, pans, and so much more from carefully organized and labeled shelves of donations for a family of six. The process included reviewing all essential needs for the family, including the entire living room and bedroom sets. After all the furniture and home goods were packed for the family, including five beds, sofas, and a dining room table set, the volunteers got into their cars to go to the family’s home. HMOH is different from other organizations in that they don’t just donate goods to families; they (as their name suggests) go to each family’s home and move in and organize all the donations for them, creating a warm home environment.
Once at the family’s home, the volunteers got straight to work for the next few hours setting up the entire house, hanging pictures on the walls, organizing the kitchen, making beds, building bunk beds, and even installing shower hooks. Not one detail is left up to chance with HMOH. After hours of moving in donations for the family, the once-empty home was perfectly set up for the family. HMOH often sets up homes for multiple families in just one day and has waitlists that can be months long.
A Nonprofit Is Founded
Home Makers of Hope (HMOH) is a Tampa-based nonprofit organization founded by Pam Stamey in 2008 after a local family asked her for three beds. After meeting with the mother at her home, Pam realized that she not only needed five beds for her children but also other essential furniture and home goods. After just one week of asking for donations from friends and neighbors, she was able to pull together enough to supply this family with what they needed.
This was the beginning of this amazing nonprofit! The organization’s mission is to provide home goods for families in crisis, including beds, couches, towels, blankets, pillows, and kitchenware, anything that a family would need to live comfortably, free of charge. Part of their work includes partnering with community agencies that promote self-sufficiency and stability for families in need. All referrals are sent by case managers to provide the best possible opportunities for families and then evaluated based on need and availability. Once a referred family has been approved, they are added to the waitlist, and an associate from Home Makers of Hope visits the home to assess any needs.
An assessment includes identifying an itemized account of needed goods, including living room furniture, kitchen cookware, linens, towels, and more. Even the color preference for decor is considered when pulling donated goods. The personal requests from families are used as a basis for their donation to retain the family’s personal dignity even in trying circumstances. Jewell witnessed this firsthand as volunteers pulled pink curtains and stuffed animals for a little girls’ room and an action figure and a gaming-themed comforter for a boy’s room, complete with a lava lamp. It’s little small touches like that that make all the difference for a family overcoming difficulties.
Stamey expanded on the mission of HMOH, expressing, “Having a home without furnishings is only one step up from homelessness. Transforming a house into a home where all the children and the parents are safe and comfortable changes their lives and doing it changes ours.”
Making a Difference
About her time serving with HMOH, Jewell revealed, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to volunteer with such an impactful organization, Home Makers of Hope.” She continued, “We often take what we have for granted, not realizing that there are so many who live with so little. With just a simple donation of old plates or extra blankets, you can make a tangible difference in a local family’s life!” Through this volunteer experience, Jewell was able to make a difference in her community and deepened her sense of gratitude, “Home Makers of Hope is really able to create a loving home environment for families going through the most difficult circumstances; it’s a truly beautiful service.”
Home Makers of Hope continues their work through donations from people in the Tampa Bay Area and partnering with companies. They take in used furniture in good repair, houseware, linen, rugs, lamps, decorative items, books, and toys, and even arrange donation pickups at someone’s home. While there, Jewell spoke with a long-time HMOH volunteer who told her that she felt proud that this organization delivered fundamental support for families in crisis while positively contributing to ecological concerns by saving lightly used furniture from being discarded.
Home Makers of Hope has served thousands of families since 2008 and continues providing for families most in need. For more information on Home Makers of Hope and how to donate, visit their website!
Home Makers of Hope
Home Makers of Hope (HMOH) provides essential furnishings and household items to families and individuals struggling with poverty. Furnishing a home is expensive for anyone, but especially for those suffering hardships or returning from homelessness. After paying for basic needs such as food, rent, and utilities, there is usually little left to buy beds or furniture. We make a home by providing linens and beds to sleep on, fully equipping their kitchens where families can have meals together, and decorating living areas to encourage family time.