The black painted table that Bill Snyder purchased at a furniture sale Saturday at Douglas Avenue United Methodist Church was designated for a spot in his basement.

The table was among more than 200 pieces of furniture in the sale presented by Wooden It Be Lovely, a ministry that helps local, low-income women in transition by hiring them to paint donated furniture to be sold to the public.

Saturday’s event, which was Wooden It Be Lovely’s third sale, helped note the one-year anniversary of the nonprofit social enterprise that’s sponsored by the church located at 501 S. Douglas Ave.

“It’s just a wonderful church. There’s so much support,” said Bill Snyder, a member of St. Agnes Parish who attended the sale with his wife, Jane.

Jeri Gilman of Springfield was in line waiting for the start of the sale with dozens of other customers just before 9 a.m. Saturday. She was attending her first Wooden It Be Lovely sale.

“I think it’s a great cause. I’ve seen this, and I love this kind of stuff — painted furniture and the idea of refurbishing it into a new life. I think that’s wonderful,” said Gilman, who later purchased four items: a garden bench, two tables and another chair.

Program funding

Douglas Avenue’s associate pastor the Rev. Margaret Ann Jessup had the vision for Wooden It Be Lovely to help local single mothers who live in poverty or are recovering from drug addiction.

“For me as the pastor, but also the director, so often we think it’s about the furniture, but it’s not so much about the furniture as about giving women a hand up,” said Jessup, who also credits Douglas Avenue’s lead pastor the Rev. Julia Melgreen. “It really does transform the women.”

The women work part-time Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Community volunteers paint with the women from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Paint parties can be hosted on Thursday evenings (call 546-4631 to schedule).

The program employs the women to refurbish donated wooden furniture, which is sold to the public to help fund the program. The first two sales generated approximately $22,500, money that is put back into the program for payroll costs (the women are paid an hourly wage). The sale Saturday raised nearly $13,000, and was “our best sale yet,” Jessup said.

“Our sales pay the payroll for the most part, but … there are other things that we buy — paint brushes, sometimes we have to buy special paint, supplies, hardware, nails, tools,” said Jessup, who added that the ministry won’t receive a grant next year that it previously received. “We’re looking for a corporate sponsor. I just keep thinking if we could find someone that we could somehow partner with — a Realtor or a painter. … We need a constant influx of income somewhere, another income stream.”

Transitional employment

Wooden It Be Lovely’s goal is to transition women to full-time employment in the community. Two women have transitioned to full-time employment.

Ministry associate Megan Shomidie, 31, is now lead designer with Wooden It Be Lovely. She said she is grateful to work with the ministry and hopes to continue similar work as her career.

“I’m having my one-year anniversary coming up, and from a year ago to now it’s completely changed my life. I had a lot of struggles. I went through a lot of issues,” said Shomidie, who lives in Springfield. “Right after I had my daughter, I started working here, and the combination of becoming a mother and working here has changed my life completely.

“I got back into my artistic passion because I have a degree in art education, and I wasn’t using it before, but it’s so important to my livelihood that I stay kind of connected in my artistic passion.”

The next Wooden It Be Lovely furniture sale will be from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 22, at Douglas Avenue United Methodist Church, 501 S. Douglas Ave.

   — Contact Tamara Browning: tamara.browning@sj-r.com, 788-1534, twitter.com/tambrowningSJR.

WANT TO GO?

WHAT: Colorful Cuisine for a Cause (fundraiser for Wooden It Be Lovely)

WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday, April 22

WHERE: Douglas Avenue United Methodist Church, 501 S. Douglas Ave.

INFO: Menu theme focuses on color: chicken cordon “blue;” roasted “red” skinned potatoes with a hint of “red’ onions; “green” beans sprinkled with “brown” toasted almonds; tossed fresh “green” salad; “red” velvet cake with “cream” icing; “pink” lemonade” and “green” tea.

There will be an auction of colorful, refurbished furniture, one piece painted for the event by each Wooden It Be Lovely associate.

Donation is $25.

Call 546-4631 to reserve a ticket.

Monetary donations to Wooden It Be Lovely can be made by sending a check payable to Wooden It Be Lovely and mailing to Douglas Avenue United Methodist Church, 501 S. Douglas Ave., Springfield, IL 62704.