Megan Martin and her son showed up at our place back when Dan and I were newlyweds (well … we’re still newlyweds). We had sorted through our duplicate household items, and Megan was there to pick up our excess home furnishings.

Photo: Furnish Hope & Home

Megan is founding director of Furnish Hope, a grassroots organization that provides gently used home furnishings for those in need. She had recently tweaked her back, but here she was, planning to help her son load the items into her trailer. That’s the kind of hard-working person she is, a co-worker told me later.

Furnish Hope serves veterans, recovery addicts, the unhoused, families who have lost a home to natural disaster, foster kids aging out of the system, people fleeing domestic violence, and those with disabilities or medical challenges. That’s a lot of need.

There are 62 agencies in the Central Oregon area that make referrals to Furnish Hope—including Veterans Affairs, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Pregnancy Resource Center, Antioch Church, American Red Cross, and St. Charles Health System. That’s a lot of partnering.

Dan and I knew beforehand that our contribution was going to a single mom with a young daughter who had been awarded a Habitat for Humanity house. How fun it was to gather our extra blankets and sheets and dishes and kitchen gadgets and lamps and an entire oak bedroom set and a dining table with chairs, knowing these items would help transform a house into a home for a young woman and her little girl!

As word spread and the storage space bulged at the seams, Megan and her crew were given access to a warehouse at no cost.

And now, they’ve added a storefront in the Old Ironworks art district where Colorado meets Second Street, and a clutch of railroad tracks run every which way, and old buildings have been transformed into cool new shops and gathering places.

The public can shop at the Furnish Hope & Home store to purchase warm and cozy trimmings for their own homes.

But here’s the cool thing: anyone can purchase gift cards to be distributed by Furnish Hope to those in need who can then shop right there for the items that would add a homey touch to their new digs—furry throw pillows, fun wall hangings, soft comforters, old trunks, framed mirrors.

Photo: Furnish Hope & Home
Photo: Furnish Hope & Home

Last week on a warm evening, Dan and I were on the invitation list to attend the grand opening of the Furnish Hope & Home storefront. It was a lovely celebration. We heard from the five, strong women who run this non-profit, and I got to hug Megan’s neck afterwards. She remembered Dan and me from a couple years ago: “You were some of our first donors!” she exclaimed.

This thought from Charlotte Moss:

An empty room is a story waiting to happen, and you are the author.

Megan and her team are in the business of allowing people here in our corner of the planet to add to their stories in beautiful ways.

While we were at the grand opening, I introduced Dan to a couple women I knew who also run grassroots non-profits in town: Jana Hill with Kindred Connections and Ranae Staley with The Giving Plate. And Dan introduced me to a fellow steering committee member for Ochoco Christian Conference Center, Chris Earwicker, who also works for J Bar J Youth Services.

As we talked with each of these women, I had a light bulb moment. (Warning: run-on sentence ahead.) Kindred Connections has ties in the community with Furnish Hope, and J Bar J Ranch, and Giving Plate, and Foundry Church … and Giving Plate has ties in the community with Boys & Girls Club and Shepherd’s House and Neighborhood Impact and the Oregon Food Bank … and Furnish Hope has ties in the community with Shepherd’s House and J Bar J Ranch and Pregnancy Resource Center and Westside Church and Miller Lumber and Mosaic Medical  … the list is actually quite long for each of these organizations. That’s a lot of connection.

There was a burst of gladness somewhere in the vicinity of my heart to see—to really notice—how the faith-based alliances blend beautifully with the non-faith-based groups. And how things get done because of these collaborations.

How addicted lives are given a second chance—or maybe a tenth or hundredth chance.

How troubled youth are loved and mentored and allowed opportunity to give back.

How families get a roof over their heads.

And how children get fed.

All through the love and involvement and compassion and generosity of people within the community who are corralled and organized by these organizations (you noticed what I did there).

One of the things I love about our town is that it collectively does so much good. I can’t help but think that God is honored in our collaborative service to feed the hungry, and house the homeless, and provide medical care for the ill, and safe homes for displaced children. That’s a lot of hope.

Side note:

My friend, Peggy Carey, serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives for J Bar J Youth Services that promotes innovative options for at-risk youth.

Peggy was involved in the brainstorming over an inventive idea that would include a partnership with J Bar J, Bend Heroes Foundation, Central Oregon Veterans Outreach (COVO), Hayden Homes, Deschutes County, the City of Bend, and two local rotary clubs. Each had a part in developing Central Oregon Veterans Village that provides 15 transitional shelters and a community center for 15 veterans in the region.

Bend Heroes Foundation headed up the capital campaign. J Bar J Ranch youth built the first three homes under the supervision of Hayden Homes Project Manager, James Limerick.

Photo: Central Oregon Veterans Village

The homes were then transported to where the village was established on land leased to the Bend Heroes Foundation from Deschutes County with support from local rotary clubs and a contribution from the City of Bend.

Photo: Central Oregon Veterans Village

Central Oregon Veterans Outreach manages the day-to-day business, overseeing social service programs geared toward self-sufficiency, behavioral and physical health services, training and skill-building, and eventually housing placement. That’s a lot of win-win-win.