Charity issue: From house to home

Home+Sweet+Home+serves+over+600+families+a+year+with+its+furniture+warehouse.

Annie George

Home Sweet Home serves over 600 families a year with it’s furniture warehouse.

A floral patterned quilt, large enough for a queen sized bed. A dish set made for a family of six. A blender and toaster, perfect for a new kitchen. All of these common household items can be found within the Home Sweet Home warehouse in Brentwood, Missouri. What may seem like ordinary home furnishings to some can make an incredible difference to those in need — this is Home Sweet Home’s mission. 

“Betsy Reznicek, our founder, was working at a women’s shelter and noticed that there were a lot of newly rehoused clients that were scrambling to find furniture for their house,” Elizabeth Freshour, Home Sweet Home development director, said. “She wanted people in need to have access to a centralized place in which they could find furnishings for their new living space with dignity and hope.” 

Home Sweet Home is currently in partnership with local agencies such as Almost Home, Gateway 180 and Room at the Inn to find clients who need immediate help. Together, they primarily focus on aiding families who are overcoming homelessness and domestic violence situations. 

“Our entire operation is very fast paced. If you donate an item there is a possibility it can end up with a family in need the very next day,” Freshour said. “We could not do any of this without the help of volunteers as they are an extremely vital part of the process.”

Families first enter through the warehouse and are greeted by a volunteer shopping assistant. These shopping assistants must be especially sensitive to clients who have undergone trauma in their past and are prepared with an extensive amount of training. 

“I feel very strongly about all of the families that we serve here. It’s such a great cause,” Diane Ryberg, volunteer, said. “I also love the overwhelmingly positive atmosphere that surrounds this place. I’ve been able to make so many friends through this organization.”

Our entire operation is very fast paced. If you donate an item there is a possibility it can end up with a family in need the very next day.”

— Elizabeth Freshour

Clients browse each aisle, making a list of the essentials they need to furnish their home. These items range from couches to mattresses to throw pillows — anything to make the client more comfortable in their new living space. 

“I love working with this organization because I feel like it’s a place where you can really have your voice heard,” Sean Ballard, Home Sweet Home operations director, said. “We have all grown so much as a collective and it’s amazing to see the change happen within our community.”

Home Sweet Home began as an organization with only two staffers and a rented truck, now serves the community with over 100 volunteers and 15 staff members, who have repurposed over 150,000 household items to those in need. 

“I’ve only been working with Home Sweet Home since early September of this year, but the way it has impacted me in that short amount of time is incredible,” Freshour said. “It already feels like home.”

If interested in donating or volunteering with Home Sweet Home, call (314-448-9838) or visit homesweethomestl.org