Raleigh non-profit turns houses into homes

In Wake County, North Carolina, more than 6,000 children lack a bed of their own. That translates to nearly one child in every school classroom who sleeps on the floor, on a couch, or in a shared bed with other family members.

The Green Chair Project is intent on making a dent in that number.

“Housing is a roof over your head, but a home is something more than that,” said Jackie Craig, co-founder and CEO of the Green Chair Project. “We help people furnish their houses with beds for all their children, kitchen tools to cook with, everything they need to live a healthy life and have a sustainable home.”

What started in a closet—with Jackie and co-founder Beth Smoot realizing that had a lot of stuff they didn’t need—has grown into a 32,000 square foot facility full of high quality, donated furnishings and goods for clients to choose from. Since 2010, the Green Chair Project has helped almost 12,000 people start fresh, including those fleeing domestic violence, coming out of homelessness, aging out of the foster care system, and rebuilding their lives after a fire or natural disaster.

Tracy Finnegan, a program lab manager with The Green Chair’s Sweeter Dreams Beds program, said she takes pride in helping families create a home that supports their emotional and physical well-being.

“Raising my own kids, I know the importance of home. That has always been our safe place,” she said. “My kids can come home and have a meal at the dinner table or sit on the couch and know that they have someone there to listen to them share about their day. We want that for other families, and if we can be just a small part of that, that’s so meaningful.”

The Green Chair Project’s clients are referred to them through partner agencies around Wake County. While operations have gone virtual since COVID-19 hit, clients can still take a virtual tour of the showroom and select the furnishings that best fit their style and their family. They can even select fully curated sets for different rooms in their homes.

And Green Chair’s showroom gives any big box home goods store a run for its money. It’s filled to the brim with colorful bedspreads, framed artwork, tables and chairs and couches of every size and style. People in the Triangle area can donate everything from nightstands and dressers to pots, pans, and small kitchen appliances.

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