Volunteers connect nonprofits with used hotel furniture in Monterey County – Santa Cruz Sentinel
Seaside >> The Community Reuse Network, a small group of local volunteers, is wrapping up a months-long, gargantuan effort to distribute used furniture to nonprofits in the region.
“It’s been a big project,” said Carolann Manley, a network volunteer. “We’re just a group of volunteers, three core workers and six or seven others that help us.”
Manley’s group is completing a project that started in February with Embassy Suites by Hilton Monterey Bay Seaside. Most of the furnishings from 200 guest rooms, except the beds and dressers, were donated to the Community Reuse Network, which then found homes for the furniture at local nonprofits.
Tables, chairs, sofas, coffee tables, lamps, artwork and mirrors were among the items salvaged from each suite. Two restaurants in the hotel, the lobby and the bar area also contributed to the bounty. In all, more than 6,000 pieces have been or will be situated in new spaces instead of ending up with a liquidator that would resell the items.
Manley first came upon the idea last year when she discovered the YMCA needed books to support its after-school programs and furniture to upgrade its lobby.
She secured the help of friends, local shops and hospitality groups to gather more than 2,000 books, art supplies, tables, chairs and dishes, in donations. Extra offerings were donated to the Veterans Transition Center in Marina.
Manley realized there existed a powerful opportunity to connect the local hospitality industry with nonprofits in need and started the Community Reuse Network.
Teri Owens, general manager of the Embassy Suites said she received a call from Manley asking about possible donations just as the hotel was about to embark on a $17.5 million renovation project back in February.
“Teri Owens took a big chance on us,” said Manley.
The hotel general manager said she listened to Manley’s pitch and was convinced the Community Reuse Network could work with the renovation schedule, contractors and shifting time lines to get the furniture moved out and off premises without getting in the way or causing delays.
“I’m amazed at her skill set. … I’m really impressed that she could do it,” said Owens. “It makes us feel proud to give stuff to people who need it.”
The network managed the timing so the nonprofits could come to the hotel and load their trucks as the renovation was taking place, section by section. The network does not charge for the service.
But Manley said the credit goes to her core volunteers, Sharon Sintetos and Joan Clay, and the many supporters she can count on to lend a hand, including Cardinale Moving & Storage, which provided manpower, trucks, storage space and a distribution location for the furnishings at its Castroville location.
“We have another couple of weeks to go but the majority of the items have been distributed,” said Manley.
Embassy Suites will have its grand reopening on Nov. 16.
E Griffin-Ortiz, executive director of the Carmel Youth Center, said his facility was able to replace old, worn furniture with sturdy, well-made items in excellent condition.
The executive director said he has gotten “a lot of great feedback” from the kids and has noticed subtle changes in how they view their surroundings and themselves. Besides replacing couches, chairs and tables, the center was able to create a nice little conversation pit to hangout, talk or even work.
“The furnishings improve the way it looks, which impacts how the kids look at the facility,” said Griffin-Ortiz. “It raises the level of awareness.”
The youths were made aware that the new furniture was donated by Embassy Suites and calls attention to the concept of giving and philanthropy, something the center strives to do, said the executive director.
“It’s a very tangible expression of that,” said Griffin-Ortiz. “It’s a model and encourages volunteerism.”
Jack Murphy, deputy executive director of the Veterans Transition Center, said Manley approached him about coordinating with Owens from Embassy Suites to donate furniture to the community instead of letting it go to an auction house.
Murphy said it was the right time for the center. The organization was about to embark on a growth spurt in its housing program.
“We were able to redo our housing units identically,” said Murphy. “The furniture is in great shape and practical. It’s the right size of furniture because our units are about as large as the hotel rooms.”
Murphy said Manley’s group has made a tremendous impact on the Veterans Transition Center. He credits Manley’s personality with the web of support between the hospitality industry, the community and local nonprofits.
“You see the desire to help the community and it’s contagious,” said Murphy.
Organizations that have received items from the Embassy Suites project include Boys & Girls Club of Monterey County, Carmel Youth Center, Dorothy’s Place, Food Bank of Monterey County, Gateway Center, Gathering for Women, Habitat for Humanity, Kinship Center, Rancho Cielo, Salvation Army, Sun Street Centers and the Veterans Transition Center, among many others.
The Community Reuse Network has also worked with Sanctuary Resort in Marina, Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, Monterey Conference Center in Monterey and the Steinbeck Center in Salinas.
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