‘From the Bottom of our Hearts, Thank You’
The Salvation Army recently opened a brand-new social housing complex, and a creative partnership between Crown and Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites has provided a life-changing opportunity for its new residents.
When Crown Workspace won a contract to remove furniture from Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort in Queenstown, Crown Country Manager James Logan came up with a creative solution for the high-end goods: donate it and transport it to those who need it most in New Zealand.
Oaks management and the Body Corporate came on board with the idea. Seven containers of high-quality furniture – including lounge suites, dining tables, beds and even dishwashers – were sent to Salvation Army centres around the country. It was distributed by the Crown Workspace team to Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland – areas identified as having the greatest need and at no cost to the Army.
‘It was a huge logistical task for Crown and Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort, and I’m just so thankful for their generosity – it is already making such a difference to people in need,’ says Salvation Army PR Director Tim Hamilton.
Crown is one of only five companies to have received The Salvation Army’s ‘Valued Partner’ Award. It’s something they are ‘incredibly proud of’, says James. But he adds that without the Oaks coming on board, the project could not have happened.
‘Thanks to the generosity of Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort, the body corporate and individual owners, there will be additional support provided to a huge community of families, many of whom are desperately in need,’ he says.
A fresh start at Royal Oak
Among people receiving the high-quality furniture, are the 59 residents at The Salvation Army’s brand new Royal Oak social housing complex. ‘Around 90 percent of our tenants have absolutely nothing at all with regards to household items’, says Tenancy Manager Jasmine Herewini. ‘Being able to provide furniture takes the pressure and burden off them, so these donations are highly appreciated.’
The new tenants have all been on the social housing register and most have experienced homelessness. Like the young mum who has overcome a drug habit and totally turned her life around, but has been moving between transitional housing and family members. And the dad who went through The Salvation Army Bridge programme for drug and alcohol addiction, and has been couch surfing since.
One woman in her 60’s has been on the social housing register for 10 years and has been homeless for about five years, suffering with mental health issues. ‘She is so looking forward to moving in and having somewhere to call home, along with her budgie,’ says Jasmine.
The new complex has been specially built to foster community. There is a social worker on site, and tenants will continue to receive wrap-around support from The Salvation Army, with the stability of having a long-term, affordable rental.
‘A lot of these people have come from really rough backgrounds, have experienced a lot of trauma, and have only known failure. For some of these people this will be their forever home, and having a place that is comfortable is really important for helping them make the next steps in their lives,’ adds Jasmine.
Turning houses into homes
Much of the furniture from Oaks has already been distributed and is being used by families around the country. In Dunedin, a mum and her children tragically lost their home when it burned down, leaving them with nothing. It was the fire service that called Salvation Army Community Ministries, asking for help with a food parcel. The Army was able to go a step further and provide new furniture for the family. ‘They were very, very thankful. We’ve established an ongoing relationship with them and are still supporting them,’ says Community Ministries Manager David McKenzie.
Many of those who have received furniture are moving out of transitional housing and into permanent accommodation. When Chay Thomson was able to move out of The Salvation Army’s Epsom Lodge and into a home, he was given a couch, table and chairs, coffee table and photo frames. ‘It’s really awesome, it’s helped me a lot,’ says Chay. ‘I really appreciate it because I didn’t have anything and I’m just really grateful and thankful to people who donate things like this for people who need it.’
Epsom Lodge provides supported accommodation for 84 residents, and the furniture ‘has been a God-send’, agrees manager Julie Turner. ‘When clients find more permanent accommodation, furniture is a huge need. With the recent donation of furniture we are able to help people in a very practical way that not only helps financially, but contributes to mental and emotional well-being. It gives people a much better chance of a successful transition to the community.’
The furniture has also been used to replace old, mismatched furniture in Salvation Army hostels. At Addington in Christchurch, which provides 76 beds for men mostly referred through corrections, the furniture was put to immediate use in sprucing up the place. ‘People have a perception of what a hostel is like, so it was a massive improvement and that’s been very positive. It’s that first impression when people come in, and when they see it’s clean and tidy, they’re more likely to say, ‘Hey, it’s worth giving it a go”, says Manager Glenn Dodson.
Being part of helping people make a new life for themselves is ‘very humbling’, adds James. ‘Giving back gives us great pleasure and it’s wonderful to be involved with a project where there are so many selfless and generous people doing exactly that. Thank you so much to everyone involved.’
It’s a sentiment echoed by Salvation Army clients. In Manurewa, Auckland, one transitional housing client recently moved into a new apartment with his two-year-old son. ‘First and foremost, thank you for all your help,’ he says. ‘Secondly, thank you so much for helping me out with furniture. We greatly appreciate the things you have given to help us move forward. The sofa is very comfortable. The dining table has allowed us to have family over for lunch or just a place to sit and have a chat. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.’
If you wish to discuss this article further please contact Nathan Baker – Regional Manager, Crown Workspace via email: [email protected]