Furniture Sharehouse: Supporting Westchester County Veterans

November 11th, 2012

Furniture Sharehouse is Westchester County’s own furniture bank.  Run by volunteers, Furniture Sharehouse collects unwanted clean, basic furniture, and re-distributes it FREE to clients of about 40 different Westchester County agencies.

Every month, on average, 7 to 8 Westchester County veterans are helped to ease into permanent housing by Furniture Sharehouse, through the Veteran’s Affairs arm of WestCOP (Westchester Community Opportunity Program).

Donations (furniture, time, funds) are always sought and welcomed, but right now, your online VOTES are #1 ask.

Larchmont’s own Kate Bialo, founder of Furniture Sharehouse is one of 10 National Finalists vying for a $25K grant from L’Oreal’s Women of Worth event. 

Now, through November 21, everyone can vote once a day (per email address) HERE.

Veterans are just one segment of the client base who typically receive 8 to 10 pieces of clean, basic furniture, things many of us take for granted: a sofa, a kitchen table/chairs, a dresser, a bed. 

Regular readers know I am absolutely shameless when it comes to asking for support for this wonderful cause. If you are reading this, please, you have all the tools you need to help right now.  Please click on this link to VOTE, then share it with your friends as well.  WHatever you can so, thank you for your support!!


Home Is Where There Is Furniture…And Lamps…And A Rug: Furniture Drive Coming To Armonk This Saturday 10/15

October 14th, 2011

Home Is Where There’s Furniture… And Lamps... And A Rug:  Furniture Drive Coming To Armonk This Saturday 10/15  9am-3pm

OK< we all know it’s where the heart is, too; it’s just darn hard for the heart to be happy if there is no place to sit, put your clothes away, do homework, or have a family meal.

If you have unwanted furniture that’s clogging up your home, let me tell you how you can make a meaningful difference in the life of a neighbor this weekend.

As part of the Town of North Castle’s (a.k.a. Armonk)  Zero Waste Day, Furniture Sharehouse will be behind Town Hall from 9am to 3pm, accepting your donations of clean, basic, average-size usable furniture, as well as working kitchen appliances, lamps, mirrors, and rugs.

Furniture Sharehouse is Westchester County’s non-profit furniture bank. All-volunteer, it’s the Robin Hood of average, basic, clean unwanted furniture (and some furnishings). Nothing is sold, and it’s not open to the public. Furniture is collected, then re-distributed free of charge ty appointment, to clients of almost 40 social service agencies in WestchesterThis video, filmed in 2008 as part of a pitch to PBS captures the entire experience; the updated numbers of families furnished is hovering around 1500.

While the basics like kitchen/dining tables and chairs, dressers, as well as upholstered sofas and mattress/boxspring sets are always the most in demand, there are limitations on size, and the types of things that can be accepted, so before you load up the SUV< please check out these guidelines:

Donors will not only be reclaiming some real estate in their home, they will be keeping things out of the waste stream, and helping all our tax dollars go further, both from reduced debris removal costs, as well as supporting services that support the less fortunate. Lastly, as a 501c organization, receipts for tax purposes are given,.

If  you can’t make the drive, have too much to bring, or will have a donation to make at another time-pick ups are available. just follow the above link to the website for more information. 

Stop by the drive and say hello if you’re in the area, but remember Furniture Sharehouse is open year-round, so even if you’re drawing blanks on how to help with this drive-telling your friends, and remembering it exists is a wonderful contribution in itself

And REALTORS: if you would like more information on how Furniture Sharehouse can be a helpful resource for your office/your clients who are moving-please be in touch with me directly.

Furniture Sharehouse: Getting Mattresses For Westchester Residents in Need

June 2nd, 2011

Four years ago I came to know of Furniture Sharehouse through an article in the local paper…where unwanted, unneeded furniture in good condition was  collected, then re-distributed free, to local residents in need.

Victims of fire or floods, displaced seniors and veterans, families moving into more permanent housing were some of their clients.

Working retail at the time, it was a great referral for clients who were buying things, and were looking for a place to donate what they no longer wanted/needed, but they knew would be of value to someone else.

Shortly thereafter, I launched the refreshed home, so with a more flexible schedule, I was able to get involved.  Since then, Furniture Sharehouse has become near and dear to my heart. 

Here is a video that was created 2-1/2 years ago by award-winning Mamaroneck journalist  Polly Kriesman  as part of a pitch for a PBS series. (PBS ultimately passed, their loss but our gain, thank you Polly!) And ohyes, current tally shows Furniture Sharehouse has now helped furnish 1400 Westchester families, with furniture worth over $1.6M…

As you might imagine, the basics are always in demand: sofas, kitchen tables and chairs, dressers and BEDS. From week to week, it’s never known what will be donated, until we get that call or email, so we scramble…while we can usually meet most clients’ needs, sometimes we just don’t have what they need.

Today, our collective hearts were full with joy.

Thanks to a grant from the United Way,  shipping and storage services from Connie Levene and John Levene of CONRI Services,  and the good folks at Tempur-pedic, over 100 sets of bedding were donated to Furniture Sharehouse.

News12   covered the event, and at the end of the day, the Mannings’ kids will be sleeping in real mattresses.

Evoking Maslow’s Hirearchy of Needs, I have seem the good that can happen, once the basics of someone’s home are met.  

Find out more,, and tell your friends.


Why I Am Happy Today

April 17th, 2011

Seventeen years ago today, I married a kilt-wearing Scotsman named Douglas Graham…well, he wore a kilt to our wedding; in fact, that was his wedding gift. 

From the beginning, he knew he was not going to wear a tux. Since I was going for the big dress, his wearing a suit was not going to cut it.

That we were in agreement about a kilt as a compromise was a nice surprise, the first of many.  That he would grow to like jazz,  I would be ok with changing my name, and we would share a checkbook were others. 

SIDEBAR:  Seems Kearny, New Jersey is the epicenter of all things Scottish in the NY metro area. They rent kilts, had racks of them, in whatever size you need. One tartan (which the rest of us call ‘plaid’ ) they stocked was MacDonald, which is Doug’s middle name, so he was ok wearing those colors. 

 HOWEVER he did not know I called the store owner prior and told him of my plan, to have Doug measured for his tartan to be custom made for him, as a surprise. 

 Thankfully the Graham tartan was a simple and dignified one…have been to a number of  Scottish events where other tartans were screechy-loud colors, like they ran out of the good color combinations and were using the leftover colors no one wanted…


We don’t have any big weekend plans- no customary fine dining experience , no expected bling…we both worked Saturday, napped, then, as another nor’easter roared outside, we  watched some old movies. He made pizza, I cut up mangos for dessert. Later today he is going to help me set up and work a table for Furniture Sharehouse at Westchester County Earth Day event.  And I couldn’t be more content.

Have always felt tradition is ok, as long as it means something, and you are not beholden to it…and while April 17th will always be our day, so are the other 364 days. 

Being happily, easily married to my best friend continues to be a delightful surprise.   He gets how fleeting time can be, and looks for something to be happy about most every day-it’s just how things have worked out.

 He also gets-or at least puts up with-the goofy stuff,  supports me in everything, including the building of my business, brings me flowers in the middle of the week-‘when they’re on sale!’-and values our relationship above all. How cool is that??   Yes, life is good, indeed!

Furniture Drive at White Plains HS This Sunday, April 10th

April 9th, 2011

Tomorrow,  the WP High School will be the scene for a furniture drive, to benefit Furniture Sharehouse.

To be held from 9am to 1pm, in the North Street parking lot, opposite the “Y”, the furniture drive  will be run by the High School’s Interact Club, and sponsored by the White Plains Rotary.

(Pictured at left are students from Pace University, from a previous drive).

 Interact is the  world-wide high school arm of Rotary International; Nick Wolff, a Realtor with Rand Realty in White Plains is the Rotary mentor/liaison.

As regular readers will know, Furniture Sharehouse is very near to my heart.  It is Westchester County’s furniture bank.

 Non-profit, not open to the public, and not selling anything; Furniture Sharehouse collects clean, basic furniture in good condition, and some home furnishings  (like  rugs, lamps, mirrors, and small kitchen appliances), then re-distributes them free to clients of almost 40 different Westchester agencies.

Two-and-a-half years ago,  independent producer Polly Kriesman of Larchmont filmed  ‘A Day in the Life’  type segment at Furniture Sharehouse as part of of new series pitch to PBS. Very graciously she has allowed it to be shared, click here to see.

While the story is unchanged, the actual numbers have:  As of March 31st, about to start the fifth year of operation, nearly 1300 Westchester families have been furnished with almost 17,000 donated items, worth roughly $1.3 million dollars.

18 months ago, 3 or 4 client appointments a day were the norm; now it’s 6, sometimes 8 appointments. Open year-round, and making pick-ups throughout the county, furniture drives help to keep the aisles full to meet the increasing need.

You have read this far because you know, understand and appreciate what having a home for your family means-a table to eat a meal on, a dresser to put your clothes away in, a bed to sleep in.

Every spring, in the Archdiocese of New York, seminarians from nearby St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers visit local parishes, to speak of their vocation, and ask for your support. They outline 3 simple points, and I will take a page out of their book:

First- consider donating furniture/ furnishings you no longer need or want.  Your donation would not only go to Westchester neighbors in need, it’s green and you would get a receipt for your taxes as well.

 Click here for details, inc.  donation suitability guidelines.  Drop-offs are always encouraged, but if  you aren’t able to make the drive, or just have no way to transport, pick-ups are available.

Second-maybe you have some extra time, talents, or services you would like to share?  Volunteers keep the heart of Furniture Sharehouse beating strong, please email to have that conversation.

Third-remember Furniture Sharehouse is a year-round organization, and tell your friends…your neighbors and co-workers…your book club and lacrosse parents…your social action committees and professional organizations. 

By sharing this post, or forwarding these links, you will be giving the greatest gift of all, 365 days a year.   Thank you!!

NOTE: Next drive is Saturday, April 30th, part of  Town of North Castle’s Zero Waste Day


December 20th, 2010

Ghandi once said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” 

There is nothing wrong with malls, we all need a new scarf/tie/pair of gloves/etc.  every so often…but if  you are looking for something with greater meaning, how about supporting a change you, or a loved one would like to see in the world?

Wherever you or your loved one is, there are non-profit (501c3) organizations that would welcome donations of both time and money, at any time of year. Kids or teens pledging volunteer time as a gift to a parent/grandparent could pay great dividends to all concerned.

There is no shortage of good causes. The typically most at-risk seniors and women with young children are now joined by all the other segments of the population, all in need of the most basic support-food and shelter. Here are some local organizations, and links to their websites to get you started/inspired.

Meals on Wheels is both a local and a national program, started originally to serve the elderly and otherwise home bound. They operate year round, bringing prepared meals, as well as companionship to those they serve.

Food Bank of Westchester The statistics are sobering; almost 200K  Westchester residents are hungry, or at risk of being hungry; and 83% of them are either seniors, or under the age of 18.

Formerly known as FoodPATCH, Food Bank for Westchester collects,  warehouse and distribute 6 million pounds of food a year, supplying 95% of all the food for approx 200 front-line food providers county-wide: soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, day care centers and other hunger-relief centers in Westchester.

The Bridge Fund  Founded here in Westchester in 1991, and since has been the model for organizations in NYC, CT and MA;  The Bridge Fund aids working poor families/individuals who are in imminent danger of losing their housing.  Last year they handled almost 2800 requests for help, and ultimately prevented  312 evictions and foreclosures

All of what they do, and the individualized way they do it doesn’t fit this 5-8 sentence format, so I would urge you to click the link above, and find out more about them.

Furniture Sharehouse  Near and dear to my heart, Furniture Sharehouse collects and re-distributes clean and serviceable furniture free,  to clients of about 3 dozen local agencies.

Started in April 2007, they crossed their 1000th Westchester family served in September.

 Pets Alive is the new name of the Elmsford Animal Shelter. Still the only no-kill shelter in the area, they merged with Pets Alive rehabilitation sanctuary in Middletown NY earlier this year.

They support animals, and the people that want to adopt them. Again, their programs and needs are varied, please click link above to find out more.

Got Furniture?

October 2nd, 2010

Have been a furniture and furnishings gal from way back: At age 9,  I persuaded my parents to paint the stairway and upstairs hall ceiling yellow and orange (hey, it was the late 60’s)  I also moved my bedroom furniture around A LOT.

Went to a school known for fashion, but took every Interior Decorating elective I could.  At 21, on a dare, I interviewed for, then accepted a position as a Decorator at Ethan Allen.  I discovered dealing with furniture, furnishings, people and their homes was both fun, and surprisingly profound.

About 3-1/2 years ago I read an article in the local paper about an organization called Furniture Sharehouse. It was a  furniture bank that collected unwanted furniture in good condition, and redistributed it free, to clients of various Westchester agencies.

The plan had been to profile their Grand Opening, but that April 2007 weekend, a nor’easter slammed the East coast, dumping  almost 8 inches of rain in Westchester, flooding much of the Sound Shore area. So instead, the story told of how 65 families who had lost everything were furnished out of a tent in Harbor Island Park by this Furniture Sharehouse organization.

Kept that article for 2 reasons: first as a referral for clients who wanted a good home for their unwanted or unneeded furniture; second, because I thought…’one day, I might want to be a part of that’. Guess what?

In 1943 Abraham Maslow proposed what he called his Hierarchy of Needs. Simply stated, an individual could grow, evolve, and deal with larger, more challenging issues only once their more basic needs were met. Don’t want to get all preachy here, but if you’ve read this far, maybe even watched the video, you get it.

Home is where we all start from. Help someone get their space together, you make an immediate and concrete difference in their life, it’s that simple.

Furniture Sharehouse is a year round operation, and is fast closing in on their 1000th Westchester family served.  Later this month (10/22) is their inaugural fundraiser, to be held at the Larchmont Yacht Club;  Saturday 10/23 is the next furniture drive, held in Armonk as part of their town-wide Zero Waste Day.

The web site has all the details,  and your donations of furniture (including pick ups), time, talents, supplies or funds can all be processed thru the site. Remember-we all can do something, ‘just’ spreading the word among your friends, neighbors, family, colleagues and clients is huge.

The Trifecta of Junk Removal

August 1st, 2010

We’ve all got stuff we need to get rid of-old stuff, stuff that is broken or otherwise unserviceable, stuff we don’t want or need anymore. Growing up, this stuff just got put out at the curb and was whisked away-out of sight, out of mind.

Ahh, the bliss of childhood. Now as grownups we not only have to deal our over-abundance of stuff, but how to responsibly deal with it. Enter Junkluggers.

Chances are you’ve seen the bright lime green trucks, or maybe you’ve heard the catchy name. Yes, these guys come and take what you don’t want. But-channeling Paul Harvey now-here’s the rest of the story.

They have developed a network of local charitable organizations, and will sort thru your stuff, taking what is serviceable to the appropriate agency, on your behalf, and get you a receipt from these organizations for your taxes.

SO-you not only reclaim some real estate in your home, but anything usable goes to people who could use it, you get a tax-deduction, stuff stays out of landfills…and all you have to do is pick up the phone.

I first met Asher Fink almost 2 years ago, when he was visiting my BNI group. Regular readers know that after the refreshed home, Furniture Sharehouse, Westchester’s non-profit furniture bank- is my #2 passion.

Heard what he did and persuaded him to follow me to the warehouse right after the meeting, and they have since become one of our strongest community partners and most ardent supporters. Here’s a recent segment from CBS news where they so graciously shared the spotlight.

SO-who you gonna call? 

Home Is Where There’s Furniture. And Lamps. And A Rug.

March 16th, 2010

Home Is Where There’s Furniture.  And Lamps. And A Rug.

OK< we all know it’s where the heart is, too; it’s just darn hard for the heart to be happy if there is no place to sit, put your clothes away, do homework, or have a family meal.

Furniture Sharehouse is a project that resonates on so many levels. They collect your average, basic and clean furniture/some furnishings-to re-distribute them F-R-E-E, by appointment, to clients of 32 Westchester agencies.

Yes they do take clean mattresses and upholstery, small working appliances like lamps, microwaves and toaster ovens, and accessories like wall art, mirrors and rugs. And while drop-offs are always preferred, pickups are available.

So: you reclaim your attic/garage/etc AND get a tax deduction, less goes into landfills, and someone will love your unneeded furniture as much as you once did-not  a bad deal!!

Furniture Sharehouse is open year-round, but this coming Saturday, March 20thstudents from Mamaroneck HS will be running a drive at the school,

And on Saturday April 24thFurniture Sharehouse will be in Armonk, behind North Castle Town Hall, as part of Zero Waste Day. Come by, say hello, maybe even contribute!  Complete details and donation guidelines .