“Got a family that lost their home in December and they are about to move into a new place,” TF Twitter followers read. “They need a stove and refrigerator #clehelp.” The pound symbol is the so-called “hashtag” used on Twitter to organize and access subjects.
Two days later a follow-up message appeared on the Twitterscape: “We found a refrigerator for the family! We are just now looking for a stove. Thanks everyone! #clehelp #CHA.”
Daniel Murch, TF founder, director and writer of the tweets, said most people do not realize the impact furniture can have on a person.
“I don’t think we understand people don’t have somewhere to put their clothes,” Murch said. “Some are sleeping on the floor. They don’t even have a bed or a bed frame.”
Social media platforms have really broadened Murch’s area of reach. A tweet instantly alerts the organization’s 119 followers. Status updates are read by the 258 people who hit the “Like” icon on the Facebook page. Retweets and status shares allow the original message to reach others beyond the initial audience.
Murch orignally conceived the concept for TF while attending Lee University. The upperclassman lost no time in implementing his idea. His desire to help those in need was so fervent he had to take several months off.
He discovered the philosophy of helping every person does not provide much structure for an organization.
Re-evaluating his plan left Murch with four types of needs: fire victims suggested through the Red Cross; individuals moving from the homeless shelter or Family Promise into a permanent home; domestic violence cases; and those affected by a national disaster.
Sometimes, exceptions are still made for cases outside of the four categories.
“Still looking for 2 twin size beds for grandparents getting custody of their grandchildren. #CLEhelp #CHA,” Murch tweeted on July 12.
Roughly $800 stands between him and making Transitions Furniture a legitimate nonprofit. He and his board members are working hard to determine a fundraiser to meet the goal. Ideas for the organization’s future are consistently discussed.
One idea includes going back to the 13 families who have received furniture. Murch said he wants to highlight their involvement in order to capture their story. If nothing else, these stories give Murch and his volunteers the incentive needed to continue.
Another idea involves old canoes.
According to Murch, old canoes make great bookshelves.
“If you cut them in half, they make really cool bookshelves,” Murch explained. “We would then sand them down and let some local artists work on them.”
The canoes-turned-bookshelves would then be sold to raise money for Transitions. Eventually, Murch would like to have a place where volunteers with carpentry skills can make furniture for those in need. For now the almost-nonprofit is looking for leftover 2-by-4s to build tables.
Murch said kitchen tables and dressers are the hardest items to provide for families in need. Items accepted by the organization range from kitchen and bath linens to appliances like stoves and washer machines to household furniture. A completed list can be found at the organization’s website.
Pickup dates are currently set by Murch as a way to pick up donated materials. Announcements are made days to weeks in advance of a large pickup. Those with furniture contact Murch with information on the pieces and their address.
“One of my guidelines is if I wouldn’t put it in my house, then I wouldn’t want to give it to someone else who just lost everything,” Murch said. “I always take a look at the furniture first. I make sure it is in good quality condition.”
Ten local organizations currently partner with the TF: United Way of Bradley County, Community Action Network, The Refuge Community Center, Salvation Army of Cleveland, Red Cross, Family Promise of Cleveland, Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, Camelot, CASA and the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce.
United Way has appropriated an office for Murch complete with a phone number and free Internet. The local nonprofit also allows Murch to store pieces of furniture at its downtown facilities. A warehouse is one way Murch is hoping to grow Transitions Furniture.
More information can be found by visiting TF’s website at transitionfurniture.org, liking the Facebook page www.facebook.com/TransitionFurniture or following the organization’s Twitter account, @TransitionTN.