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Dennis Finds a Home

[Photo: Dennis in Furniture Mission warehouse]
Dennis in Furniture Mission warehouse

For five years, Dennis had no home, no job and no future. Today, Dennis has a home, a job and a new purpose in life. It all started nearly six years ago when Dennis's life was drastically changed after he was laid off from his job. Unable to find another job, he couldn't pay the rent, lost his apartment, and survived living on the streets in Sioux Falls.

Moving from shelter to shelter and sleeping outside in abandoned cars, Dennis became frustrated and depressed. "It's hard to go on a job interview with no clean clothes, no permanent address and no way to clean up," he explained. Thus started the cycle of homelessness for Dennis. He worked periodically as a day laborer, but that was irregular. At one point he was able to save enough to get a small apartment, but that only lasted a couple of months before he ran out of money and was back on the streets.

Dennis needed help. One day while he was standing on the street Dennis met Marsha, the Director of the Furniture Mission. She asked if he would help unload some furniture. The Furniture Mission is a local non-profit that accepts donated furniture and passes it on to those in need. Dennis liked the work and continued volunteering by unloading and delivering furniture. After several months the other volunteers at the Furniture Mission "adopted" him, and Dennis became a permanent fixture.

Following discussion with the board, the Furniture Mission decided to hire Dennis as their first employee. He is paid for four hours work and volunteers at least four more hours each day. Dennis does a little bit of everything; he manages the warehouse, answers phones, delivers furniture, and anything else that needs to be done.

[Photo 2: Dennis in front of Furniture Mission]

With a steady job and a regular income, Dennis, with help from other volunteers at the Furniture Mission, was able to rent a one-bedroom HUD-subsidized apartment. Now off the streets, Dennis says he has a new purpose for his life. "I know how it is to have nothing," he explained. "I was in that situation; now I'm trying to help others."

Dennis has also gotten back in touch with his mother after five years of being estranged while living on the streets. He credits Marsha and the other volunteers with help in putting his life back together. "Without this opportunity, I would still be on the streets," Dennis said.

Dennis showed us the wallet he now has. "When you are homeless, you don't need a wallet," he said, remembering. "Now I have a wallet and I actually have something to put in it."

Dennis is succeeding today because he accepted someone reaching out to assist him. He worked hard and found that with help and self-determination, a person can work through and overcome a tough situation.

The Furniture Mission (http://www.furnituremission.org/)

Content Archived: April 5, 2011

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