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Nonprofit needs help getting furniture donation program off the ground

Roseann Keegan
rkeegan@tahoedailytribune.com

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Ellen Nunes remembers what it’s like to struggle.

When her son was 2 years old, they lived in a sparse attic apartment with a hot plate and ceilings low enough to touch.

She remembers wishing for a dining room table.

“For me, not having that dining table, that place to sit and eat with my son, became the symbol for something more normal and stable,” she said.

Today, 24 years later, this experience has become the inspiration for “The Dinner Table Project,” a charitable program Nunes and her colleagues at Clean Tahoe Program would like to start this year.

The Dinner Table Project aims to provide recycled household furniture to families, particularly women and children, who have been placed in new living situations after completing programs with the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center, Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Family Resource Center and Sierra Recovery Center.

“This project is very personal to me as I have been one of the many women helped by our local agencies,” said Nunes, program manager for Clean Tahoe. “I understand all-too-well the frustration and sadness that comes from being unable to provide the most basic of things for your child due to a crisis.”

The idea came out of the fact that Clean Tahoe, a nonprofit that contracts through the city to remove of litter from roadways and neighborhoods, picked up 108 tons of furniture, appliances and refuse last year.

Many of the items are still usable, Nunes said, coming from vacation rental discards and seasonal employees who move away and abandon their furniture.

Clean Tahoe staff donates many of these items to The Attic, Barton Memorial Hospital’s thrift store. But many items are dirty or torn, and thus not accepted.

The Dinner Table Project plans to have volunteers clean and refurbish the items, then local agencies could connect clients with the program to receive the goods.

Nunes said the charity received a $1,000 grant from the Soroptimists, but needs warehouse space to store the items. Until someone steps forward to donate space or offer greatly reduced rent, The Dinner Table Project will not get off the ground.

“Part of the purpose of this project is to bring a little dignity to those who are suffering the indignities of life, mostly women and children,” Nunes said. “By providing them with something as simple as a table, a dresser for their clothes, a desk to do homework on, we can make such a difference.”

To make a volunteer, make a donation or offer storage space, call Nunes at (530) 544-4210.


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