Iowa City nonprofit gives beds, furniture to families in need

Houses into Homes, an Iowa City non-profit, has given over 80 beds to more than 35 households in the past year.

Jordan Prochnow, News Reporter

A nonprofit in Iowa City helps to provide needy families with beds and other household necessities.

Houses into Homes, founded by Salina McCarty and Lucy Barker, has provided more than 80 beds to more than 35 households since its start in February 2018. The individuals served are referred to the program by local service agencies and social workers.

McCarty and Barker were volunteers in the Iowa City area when McCarty came across a viral video on Facebook, which showed a boy in Detroit getting his first bed. It struck a chord with the duo.

“We decided to look into what existed in the Iowa City community to provide beds and furniture to families in need,” Barker said. “After meeting with some representatives from local social-service agencies and the schools, we confirmed that the need was there.”

The nonprofit was started as a pilot program to collect and distribute beds to families in need. When that venture was successful, Houses into Homes began providing other furniture and household items as well.

“We started with just collecting and distributing beds to a couple of households each time,” Barker said. “Now, we deliver to eight to 10 households each delivery day, and we provide beds, furniture such as couches, tables, chairs, and dressers, and household items such as sheets, towels, dishes, and other kitchen items such as microwaves, coffee makers, and vacuums.”

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Since its inception, Houses into Homes has grown. Barker said that a big goal for the organization is to have a truck of its own to increase efficiency and serve more families, as well as to increase storage and to pay stuff for deliveries.

“Our goal is, and has always been, to serve as many families and individuals as we can in as short a time as possible,” Barker said.

Because of a large number of requests for furniture, she said, volunteers continually need to replenish inventory. Donations of new or gently used items are always welcome, and the group needs volunteers and fundraising to keep deliveries running smoothly.

The impact has been life-changing. I think differently about what I have, need, and want.

— Jana Bennett

Volunteer Jana Bennett, who was moved by the mission of Houses into Homes, believes it is a win for the Iowa City community.

“At first, I donated items,” Bennett said. “Then I realized I could provide a helping hand and have recruited my son and his friends to help. The impact has been life-changing. I think differently about what I have, need, and want.”

Emerson Bennett, her son and a freshman at Liberty High, participates in the Silver Cord Program at his school. This involves community service, and his mother suggested that he volunteer with Houses into Homes.

“It’s odd to say, but it’s been a fun experience,” Emerson said. “When I go home, I appreciate what I have and look forward to helping again. Houses into Homes is an important organization in our community.”