ROTTERDAM The Catholic Charities Furniture Program has secured a larger home for its operations as the need for its services grow—more than 100 people are not on a waiting list for donated items.
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany on Wednesday, Nov. 14, celebrated the grand opening of its new warehouse in the Rotterdam Corporate Park, which houses furniture and housewares donations for low-income individuals and families. The Rotterdam warehouse is more centrally located in the charity’s 14-county area, and has about 1,500 square feet more space at 6,500 square feet. The program serves more than 500 households annually.
“We are thrilled to be in this new, expanded location where we can better serve our clients,” Catholic Charities CEO Vincent Colonno said in a statement.
The program’s previous location in Rensselaer, at the former St. Anthony’s on the Hudson, sustained water damage in Tropical Storms Irene and Lee. The group decided to move the better-suited Rotterdam warehouse instead of renovating the damaged building. Some furniture is still stored at its former home, but clients aren’t brought to it anymore.
Jack Beckett manages and runs the warehouse, and said since it started about six years ago, the need has rapidly increased.
“It has expanded probably 10 times from what it was,” Beckett said. “We probably in the last two years more than doubled the number of people that we help. We have many more calls than we can actually service in any given year, but we do our best.”
Beckett credited the uptick not only to the recession, but also to cuts in social services that would offer furniture vouchers to struggling residents. Now, those vouchers are only given in emergency situations.
“The government has cut the funding they get, so they look for ways to cut their expenses,” Beckett said. “Where they used to give out vouchers on a fairly regular basis, they don’t do that anymore just because they don’t have the money.”