Thursday, May 8, 2008

HomeSource: A History

I thought it would be a good way to start if I gave you some background information on HomeSource. By this point I'm sure you can surmise what it's all about- providing low cost home supplies (cabinets, appliances, paint, doors, wallpaper, etc.) to individuals (who meet requirements regarding income level, and who live in Milwaukee) who want to fix up their home. There really is nothing else in Milwaukee like it. While there are other programs similar (Habitat for Humanity and ReStore) none is like HomeSource. Those other programs don't except used donations, there are more boundaries, and no tool rental like HomeSource. Here is the story of this unique organization.

HomeSource is part of LAND (Lisbon Avenue Neighborhood Development) and comprises about 50% of its focus. HomeSource was founded about 9 years ago and grew out of the original tool rental program, now called Tool Source. LAND rents out tools to residents at a very low price, there is nothing like it in all of Milwaukee. HomeSource grew out of this as LAND realized that many residents not only needed tools for small projects, but they also needed material to undertake other home repairs. HomeSource complimented the tool rental perfectly- residents had the tools to use and now they had access to affordable materials to improve their homes.

HomeSource started out in a 7,000 sq. foot warehouse, and now is housed in a warehouse with a 10,000 sq. foot capacity- and LAND is looking for an even larger location because of growing donations! HomeSource receives donations from such places as Menards and Home Depot, along with private individual donations. They have also received monetary donations, including a large gift from UPS. HomeSource doesn't just help out residents either, they actively help other nonprofit organizations such as churches. This is also a way to increase membership, HomeSource has hundreds of items and is always looking for more customers to help, at the moment they rely on word of mouth, working through churches is a way to help congregations and then also help out members of the congregation at home.

As mentioned earlier, HomeSource carries everything from paint to sinks, wallpaper to cabinets, toilets to doors, and appliances like refrigerators and stoves. In fact, the top items always in demand are refrigerators and gas stoves. And HomeSource is committed to helping residents as much as possible, while they accept used donations, all items received are checked thoroughly to ensure that only safe items are passed on to customers. HomeSource is always looking and willing to receive more donations, and they have a delivery truck they use to pick up items (pickup only, HomeSource does not deliver out of concern for injury and/or damage). The most unique item ever donated to HomeSource was a $5000 Kohler birthday series bathtub with gold legs! It even came with a matching toilet!

HomeSource is lucky to not only have a large amount of items, but also has a dedicated volunteer core to keep things running smooth; and while taking a stroll through the warehouse it isn't hard to see the dedication of the people working there and how they utilize every square inch of storage space.

*Special thanks goes out to Toni Anderson, director of LAND, who gave me the majority of this information through an interview.

No comments: