I am an attorney for the local legal aid in Phoenix. Many of my clients not only have legal needs but social, emotional and practical needs as well.
When I first met Michael, he was a client. After his case ended, we became friends and stayed in touch off and on for a few years. His mental issues stop him from working and after waiting for more than two years, he was given subsidized housing. I was so excited for him and Glenda, his service dog and best friend.
I went to visit him a few days after he moved in. What I saw was shocking. His mental health clinic gave him a blow-up mattress and a coffee maker to furnish his apartment and a shower curtain to use as a blanket.
I was depressed after I left and turned to social media to furnish his apartment. Through the help of some friends, a couch, a love seat, a dining table and chairs, lamps, sheets, towels and basic living supplies were donated. Other friends donated money and we were able to buy a bed. Other people continue to donate regularly and help pay for his laundry and internet. Michael’s apartment went from a place to live to a home.
For more than 20 years, I have been gathering furniture for people, starting with Russian Jews who moved to Phoenix and now helping Furnishing Dignity to provide for those individuals and families who have a place to live but not a home.
As a Jew, I believe in doing mitzvot and working to create a world where people’s basic needs are met. My Jewish education from religious school at Beth El Congregation to a college degree in Jewish studies taught me to work on the mitzvah of tikkun olam.
Each person who has a comfortable place to call home makes the world a better and safer place.
Working in the Jewish community helped me gain experience asking for help from the community members. A friend of mine introduced me to Furnishing Dignity and I knew I found the right organization to work with.
Furnishing Dignity is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide furniture and basic home furnishings for individuals and families who can afford apartments but cannot afford to furnish them.
There is a screening process and families can only use the services once because of the demand, but we are able to help hundreds of families yearly.
There is nothing like the look of a child who enters his/her bedroom for the first time and sees a bed with age-appropriate sheets and a separate place for toys.
We are continually looking for furniture in good condition and new beds.
Even though two moving companies donate their services, each move costs Furnishing Dignity $250, so we also ask for money donations to offset the cost of the move.
I ask you to help with the mitzvah of tikkun olam and support Furnishing Dignity.
Please visit furnishingdignity.org for more information. JN
Nina Targovnik is an attorney at Community Legal Services and is a member of Furnishing Dignity’s board of directors.