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Above: John Fischetti and Diane Brown are two volunteers at the Blessing Board. (Photo courtesy The Blessing Board)
A demonstrated need drew an Oakmont-based charity into the McKeesport area.
Now, after several moves within the city, The Blessing Board is open two Saturdays per month at 820 Market St., in a former auto parts store shared with First Step Recovery Homes.
The Blessing Board was established to help people who are struggling to furnish their homes. People who want to use it need only two things --- an appointment and access to a truck, said Amy Hehn, who sits on the board of directors and is a member of the Day of Blessings Team.
“We know they are here because they have a need, they do not have to prove that,” she said. “Here people can furnish their home with love and that's Gods love.”
Founded in Oakmont, last year Blessing Board served families from every zip code in Allegheny County.
After noticing a great number of families were located in McKeesport, they decided in 2015 to open a location closer to the city. The McKeesport warehouse is open the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, Hehn said, but that may change, depending on the number of volunteers available to work.
“Getting volunteers is the hardest part,” Hehn said. Volunteers consist of individuals, church groups, scout troops and others, she said.
She said volunteers are needed to clean, work in the office, sort through donations, load items onto trucks, and work at their store, the Vintage Market, located at their Oakmont branch. Money raised at the store is used to help fund Blessing Board's operations. Those interested in volunteering can sign up on the group's website, www.theblessingboard.org.
Blessing Board also accepts donations. There is always a need for lamps, dressers, couches and microwave ovens. Lamps are important because Section 8 housing does not include overhead lighting.
Families who are interested in furniture from Blessing Board should make an appointment by contacting Blessing Board at (412) 828-1055 and leaving a message for the volunteer coordinator, Katy Harley.
People who miss their appointment will need to wait six months for a new one.
At their appointment, commonly called 'days of blessing,' they are treated to pastries and coffee, while staff fills out their paperwork. They are then taken to the warehouse to select their furniture. One person, over the age of 15, can accompany them.
Volunteers will load their trucks. “We want people to feel respected,” Hehn said. “Love is what's behind the furniture and that's love doing the heavy lifting.”
Families are then taken to the Home Room where they can choose smaller items, including dishes, sheets, lamps, artwork, towels, pots and pans.
Blessing Board has several fundraisers throughout the year. The next one is their annual shredding event, which allows people to shred sensitive documents. The event is free to the public, but donations are collected to benefit the Blessing Board. The event will bring awareness to the dangers of Identity Theft while allowing people to shred sensitive documents.
The event is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 30 at 1440 Lincoln Way, White Oak.
Also in June, Blessing Board will be selling raffle tickets for $10. The winner will receive a tour of the Oakmont Country Club and a round of golf for themselves and three friends.
Charlotte Hopkins is a freelance writer from West Elizabeth. This is her first story for Tube City Almanac.
Originally published May 01, 2018.