Not many post-secondary students see their time and research translate into real-world applications. For one lucky group of Redeemer graduates, it’s unfolding right now. In fall 2020, Selena Reitsma, Erica Costin and Luke Lima, along with team members Simone Filippone and Daniel Wolfert, partnered with CityHousing Hamilton to present a business plan for a local furniture bank to their CTS-410 class. A year later, it was discovered by the St. Catharines-based organization Niagara Furniture Bank and is currently helping expand their operations into Hamilton.
“Hopefully, it will lessen furniture poverty in the city,” says Costin. “There’s furniture out there, it’s just a matter of connecting the pieces together and realizing that each person can make a difference.”
In 2019, many CityHousing tenants were moving in without household necessities. During one memorable instance, a staff member went to check on a group of women and found them sitting on the floor.
“It was a lesson for me about coming together as the body of Christ and doing my best work wherever I am.”
“While CityHousing was able to find furniture for [those women] through different connections, they realized that some people might not apply for social housing because they don’t have anything to fill the space,” says Reitsma.
From there came the idea for a furniture bank, and the task of creating the inaugural business plan fell to the students.
“It was a blessing and a challenge,” says Costin. “We didn’t have to go back and relearn anything, but we also had nothing to work with. Most of what we did was research, and building that foundation was actually the best thing we did.”
“We even had to define what furniture was and decide whether it was just big items or smaller things like utensils,” adds Lima. “At the end of the day, we realized that it encompassed everything someone would need.”
The end result is a testament to their tireless efforts and staying committed to a higher purpose.
“I came to the project as a social work student, so I was kind of discouraged when I heard that we’d be making a business plan,” says Rietsma. “It was a lesson for me about coming together as the body of Christ and doing my best work wherever I am.”
“Right to the end, I prayed that it would be useful somehow,” says Lima. “We all had that prayerful desire, and I think God honoured it.”