Over the years, FUSION (Friends United to Shelter the Indigent, Oppressed and Needy) volunteers have had to get creative about where to store surplus home decor items.
The nonprofit organization maintains 17 homes in Federal Way and Northeast Tacoma for homeless families. Each of the homes are fully furnished before families move in, using items donated to the organization.
Volunteers have stored surplus decor items throughout several locations, including people’s garages.
“We noticed we were turning away a lot of great merchandise because of lack of storage,” said Peggy LaPorte, FUSION founder.
But the organization’s new Decor Boutique, set to open on April 15, will help solve this storage issue as the new store will sell these items. All proceeds from sales at FUSION Decor Boutique will also help fund the organization’s mission.
“The new Boutique is a way to grow the organization, as well as a way to store surplus decor,” said Bob Wroblewski, FUSION board president.
LaPorte said their mission to get the Boutique in operation was a two-year process, beginning with finding a good location. The new business is located at 31823 Gateway Center Boulevard, next door to Marlene’s Market and Deli in Federal Way.
“It’s been a journey,” LaPorte said. “We’re doing a lot of things we never had to do in the past. It’s amazing how volunteers came forward to assist just when we needed them.”
Volunteers stepped up to renovate the 5,700-square-foot space, including painting walls, plumbing, placing tiles and creating panels to store artwork. FUSION volunteer Bob Favors also donated a truck to the organization that they will use to collect donations.
In fact, the new Decor Boutique is completely volunteer-run, said Karen Garvey-Zimmerman, boutique volunteer manager. Volunteers work in four-hour shifts while the store is open, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The store is closed on Sunday and Monday.
Local companies have also chipped in to help, including Federal Way’s CTM Granite that donated tile and granite, and TNW, Inc., which donated commercial grade epoxy floor paint.
The upscale Boutique features decor items, ranging from lamps, antiques, artwork, beds, antique chests and other furniture, teacup sets and more.
LaPorte urges residents to call FUSION if they have decor items to donate and officials will schedule a pick up. Volunteers have driven as far as Bellevue and Gig Harbor to pick up donations. People are also welcome to drop-off donations on Mondays.
“We need a constant flow of things coming in,” LaPorte said, noting the organization hopes to see an $80,000 net profit in the store’s first year.
Proceeds will help FUSION to provide housing and services to families as they work toward self-sufficiency.
“Many of the families who move into our units are new to the community,” said Mary Fowler, case manager for FUSION. “By shopping here, you’re giving back to the community by building a stronger community.”
She added that there’s “nothing like seeing the face of a family who’ve been homeless and these volunteers just present these (fully furnished) homes. It’s life changing. Usually there’s a lot of tears. There’s, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s even toothpaste.’”
If you have gently used home furnishing items to donate, call (253) 874-1257.
If you are interested in volunteering, call (253) 839-4045.
(Left to right) Bob Wroblewski, FUSION board president; Peggy LaPorte, FUSION founder; boutique volunteer manager Karen Garvey-Zimmerman; and Mary Fowler, case manager.
by CARRIE RODRIGUEZ, Federal Way Mirror Editor