November 21, 2009 in City

Under the roof, a home

A new entity, Spokane Community Warehouse, helps formerly homeless secure household items
By The Spokesman-Review
Colin Mulvany photo

With the help of the Spokane Community Warehouse, Charity Lancaster is able to provide home furnishings like a dining room table for her daughters Alexandria Hampton, 10, left, and Sabrina Lavasseur, 9.
(Full-size photo)

How to help

To donate usable household goods and furniture in good condition, call the Spokane Community Warehouse at (509) 981-3430 or e-mail spokanecommunity For more information, call Sheila Morley at (509) 624-9788.

When the bottom fell out of Charity Lancaster’s world, she fell just about as far as you can.

In September, the 30-year-old mother and her two daughters, ages 9 and 10, ended up at the Union Gospel Mission’s Crisis Shelter for Women and Children with nothing.

“I’m from Nevada and don’t have any family here,” Lancaster said. “All I had was the clothes on my back and in a suitcase.”

Last month, St. Margaret’s Shelter helped Lancaster and the girls move into low-income housing at Walnut Corners on West Broadway Avenue. But there is more to a home than a roof over your head.

Like many formerly homeless people, the family faced the daunting task of furnishing their new apartment and supplying it with the everyday household items most people take for granted.

Lancaster got everything she needed from Spokane Community Warehouse, a new charity organized by Catholic Charities and other local social service agencies, said Sheila Morley, of St. Margaret’s.

Patterned after a similar program in Portland, the Spokane warehouse collects and distributes donated furniture and household goods, such as dishes, pots, pans, flatware, lamps and televisions.

Morley said the warehouse gives the community a way to help by donating items to a charity that gives directly to low-income families. It also provides neighbors a place to volunteer.

“We are able to recycle good furniture that might otherwise end up in a dump,” Morley said.

But that doesn’t mean the warehouse will take your trashed sofa.

The nonprofit agency is selective about what donated items it will accept, and Morley would not disclose the address of the warehouse out of concern that people will drop off unsuitable items.

Since beginning operations in October, the warehouse has helped 13 families whose caseworkers made a list of the items they need. Lancaster and her daughters were the first to be helped.

The help was timely. Lancaster begins treatment this month for cancer, which has returned after first being diagnosed in 2006. With the help of such agencies as Interfaith Hospitality, St. Margaret’s Shelter and the Spokane Community Warehouse, Lancaster is ready to continue the fight.

“I feel a little bit complete but scared at the same time,” Lancaster said. “I want to make sure I have everything I need in a row for my children.”

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