Furniture Bank Volunteer Profile: Erin Lazer

Annalee Sawiak, Chief Sustainability Officer at Furniture Bank, driving sustainability and expansion.

This guest blog post was authored by, Erin Lazer, Furniture Bank Volunteer and Owner of SpaceStyle Home Staging, Organizing & Design.

In Erin’s Own Words

I first came across the Furniture Bank while planning an event for the GTA Chapter of the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA), a North American trade association for Home Stagers and Redesigners. We were looking to align our event, an open house for a property staged by chapter members, including a talk from well-known designer, Kimberley Seldon, with a charity that we could raise money for. The Furniture Bank was found to be a perfect fit for our organization, as we are not only often recommending to clients that they donate excess furniture, but we also help people to furnish and set up new homes.  Since the event, I have personally wanted to get involved on a regular basis with a charitable cause, and again, the Furniture Bank was a perfect fit for me personally, as I could work directly with the clients that benefit from the organization, and help them to wisely choose furnishings for their new homes.

My first impressions were that Furniture Bank was very well-organized, and that all of the employees and volunteers truly love working with the clients, and making a huge difference in their lives. Although they of course want to help all clients as much as possible, they have great processes in place to ensure that guidelines are followed in order for the organization to operate efficiently, and be able to help as many people as possible in the long run.

Volunteering at Furniture Bank has definitely had an impact on me personally. I truly have enjoyed working with the clients. They come from various backgrounds, and each has a story.  Some of them are so thankful for the furniture and housewares they are able to choose from. It’s really the small things that make them happy. It has made me feel lucky and privileged to be living the life I am living, and shown me that there are so many people out there that need assistance, and the impact that others can have on them through their donations is profound. I try to collect donations almost every time I volunteer, whether from myself, family and friends, or even clients who are decluttering or moving.

The Furniture Bank is unique as it’s a very positive organization.  We are meeting clients who are hopefully at a turning point in their lives, and are helping them get settled, and hopefully set up for success. I have not volunteered at that many organizations, but this place is definitely special.

What keeps me coming back to volunteer week after week is that each client I have worked with has been a pleasure. Some are coming in on their own, or with their spouse, or even with children in tow. Knowing that I can personally help them choose furnishings for their new home, a home they may not have thought would be possible, keeps me coming back.  Knowing that the help we give them extends to their children, is even more important. With two little girls at home, I know that as a parent, we want to give our children the best life possible. The gratitude that they show is also a joy for me.

I’ve learned a lot in the few months that I have been volunteering. I’ve learned that no matter where we come from, we all deserve to have a place to call home, and having that can make anyone a better person. I’ve also learned that everything has value. Someone may think no one else would want the furniture they are tired of, or the small appliances they no longer have use for, but to someone else, these could be treasured possessions. Most things are worth donating.

There’s one experience I’ve had that stood out for me.

I had one client come in that was moving into a bachelor apartment.  We went through and chose everything he needed.  He thanked me a few times for being so helpful, which was nice. He had a good sense of humour too.  When we were wrapping up, I saw a Tinkerbell lunchbox in the housewares section. I jokingly said to him, “Do you think you need anything else? Perhaps a Tinkerbell lunchbox?”  Then he told me he would actually take it. It turned out he has two daughters that he was fighting for custody of.  He wanted something that his little girl would love. That was a good moment.

So far my experience volunteering with the Furniture Bank has been extremely positive, whether I’m helping clients on the showroom floor, or helping to unpack donations from our generous donors.  I look forward to continuing to help out, meet more clients, and make a difference in their lives.

Want to learn more about what’s happening at Furniture Bank? Check out our blog for the latest.

Did you enjoy this article?
Recent Posts

On February 28th, Imagine Canada hosted an enlightening webinar aimed at unraveling the complexities of social finance. This exclusive session for members beckoned a closer look at how social finance can be leveraged to amplify...

As the Executive Director of Furniture Bank, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of a simple yet profound act—giving furniture to those in need. And this act is not just about furniture, it’s about offering...

Related Posts

Sunset, Vancouver, BC HomeStart Foundation is a non-profit Christian humanitarian organization helping people re-establish a home. Working in partnership with over 70 member agencies, we give donated home furnishings to people in need....

Big thank you to IKEA Canada! Just before closing their Etobicoke store, we worked together to bring 21 customer returned mattresses to Furniture Bank for immediate reuse. These mattresses went to families so children do not...

3255 Edgemont Boulevard, North Vancouver, BC V7R 2P1 We’re providing furniture and household items to people on the North Shore transitioning from homelessness to independent living....
137, 7007 54th St SE (Bay 26), Calgary, AB T2C 3C2 Women in Need Society (WINS) is an award winning not-for-profit organization and Calgary based shopping alternative investing in the social wellbeing of community....
Division No. 1, Subd. D, NL Home Again Furniture Bank is a nonprofit organization that provides gently-used furniture and household items to individuals and families in need. We work through a referral system of local agencies...
606 Selkirk Ave, Winnipeg, MB R2W 2N1 Oyate Tipi is a non-profit organization located in Winnipeg which accepts donations of gently used household goods and furniture. All items are then distributed to women and children who...
340 Legget Drive Door #53, Kanata, ON K2K 1Y6 Matthew House Ottawa is a faith-based, volunteer-driven, charitable organization that helps Ottawa’s marginalized population to establish connected, safe, healthy, and dignified homes within our community....
25 Connell Ct, Etobicoke, ON M8Z 1E7 Canada's largest operating Furniture Bank. Established in 1998, Furniture Bank is a Toronto based charity and social enterprise that transfers gently used furniture and household goods donated by individuals...

The Star cover stories from former Furniture Bank clients. Read the article below or access The Star’s original post by clicking this link. Furniture Bank makes houses into homes for families in need By TAMAR...

Furniture Bank began in 1998 with the belief that a sense of pride, comfort, and security – in short, a sense of home – are critical ingredients for people to transition out of lives of...

In this guest blog post, Karen Saunders (on the left), RBC Employee and longstanding corporate volunteer, reflects on how volunteer days at Furniture Bank has brought her colleagues closer together, gave her life perspective and...

Sister Anne Schenck would be the first to admit that there was no firm business plan when she first introduced Furniture Bank to Torontonians new and old back in 1996. Inspired by her past experiences...

So what exactly happens to your old sofa after you donate it to Furniture Bank? Let’s just say it goes on the most action packed 48 hour ride of its life. In this post, we’ve...

On February 28th, Imagine Canada hosted an enlightening webinar aimed at unraveling the complexities of social finance. This exclusive session for members beckoned a closer look at how social finance can be leveraged to amplify...

As the Executive Director of Furniture Bank, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of a simple yet profound act—giving furniture to those in need. And this act is not just about furniture, it’s about offering...

In a world that is often marked by fast-paced business environments and bottom-line priorities, it is refreshing to see companies prioritize corporate social responsibility. IKEA Canada is once again taking the lead in giving back...