Victoria had been bouncing from home to home since she aged out of the foster system. Like many in the Bay Area, she was struggling to just make rent. Furniture was a dream. She huddled on the floor to eat dinner after work.
In stepped Bay Area Furniture Bank.
Founded by retired Los Altos resident Ray Piontek in 2015, BAFB brings donated furniture to Victoria and to others in our communities who need assistance: veterans, refugees, low-income families, and victims of domestic abuse.
“Finally, I now have peace of mind with my living situation,” Victoria said.
Victoria is not alone. Over 150,000 families in the Silicon Valley make less than $35,000 a year. They scrape by. There’s simply no money left for furnishings. Many lack the basic dignity of a bed to sleep on or a table to eat.
Piontek said providing unwanted furniture to people in need is the core concept of BAFB.
“I couldn’t stand to see decent furniture going into landfills, when so many folks were lacking,” he said.
Initially Piontek gathered the furniture himself – from family, friends, and even off the street – storing it in his garage and delivering it. But when his networking efforts to secure furniture donations from businesses started paying off, BAFB quickly outgrew his garage.
BAFB’s largest donation to date is from the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, which is now undergoing an eleven-floor renovation. When Piontek heard BAFB would receive 4,400 pieces of furniture from the Fairmont, he scrambled to find storage space. Thanks to Foothill College, BAFB now houses collected furniture in a several portables on campus.
To identify eligible recipients and their furniture needs, BAFB works with existing nonprofits and social service agencies.
Through BAFB, Piontek believes he has found the perfect way to give back to the community, enjoy retirement and feel good at the end of every day.
“Who’s getting more joy from this, the families who receive the furniture or me?” he said. “I’m not sure.”
Thanks to Piontek’s great work and your support of BAFB through LACF, more struggling families, veterans, and former foster children like Victoria have more than just a roof over their heads – they have a furnished home.