Marriott's furniture donations aid many in community

New London - For some New London Housing Authority tenants, a bed was hard to come by, never mind down comforters and pillow-top mattresses.

”The average person who goes to sleep at night in their bed, that's not something they worry about,” said Lisa Sullivan, the director of the Front Porch Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the New London Housing Authority. “But when you go to someone's house and realize they have four kids and don't have beds ... and are in sleeping bags on the floor, you realize how important a bed is to a family.”

Now, some of those families can sleep a little better.

The pillow-top mattresses, box springs and down comforters and pillows are some of the items donated by the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa in Groton to Front Porch.


Mystic Marriott furniture donated to local charities and organizations:

300-plus beds, from full to king size

285 sleeper sofas or chairs

500 floor and table lamps

The “reinvention and re-energizing” of the hotel led to the donation of all the furniture from the hotel's 285 guest rooms and lobby to various local charities and organizations, said Brien Fox, the vice president of sales for the Waterford Hotel Group, which manages the hotel.

Besides Front Porch, other agencies receiving donations included the New London Homeless Hospitality Center and the Furniture Bank in Groton. The donation of more than 1,000 pieces of furniture is helping low-income families furnish their homes and local charities start new projects.

One of those projects is a new thrift store on Golden Street called Homeward Bound Treasures, operated by the New London Homeless Hospitality Center and set to open March 2. Cathy Zall, the executive director of the center, said the donated furniture will help the store get off the ground.

Proceeds from the store, which will collect home furnishings in good condition, will be used to support the center. People receiving assistance from the center will work in the store, Zall said.

”This will provide both income and job-related skills for people who are or were homeless,” Zall said. “That's what we want to be doing so people can upgrade their skills to find work and return to permanent housing.”

Three tractor-trailers full of furniture went to Front Porch. The agency hired a moving company to transport the room furniture to its donated temporary storage space at the old Bob's Discount Furniture store on Colman Street.

The more than 200 pieces of furniture is the largest single furniture donation the foundation has ever received, said Sullivan.

The items are being distributed to various residents who requested furniture from the agency. Typically, the 1,400 housing authority residents fill out a request if they need furniture. The request is then forwarded to agencies that could supply the needed items. However, because of a lack of a supply of items and a greater need, Sullivan said, some requests have gone unfilled for six months.

In addition to the home furnishings, the hotel lobby furniture can improve the common areas of some of the housing authority buildings.

One of the best outcomes of the donation has been the sense of community it has highlighted, Sullivan said.

”Some of it we delivered ourselves ... some residents delivered it to other residents,” Sullivan said. “This has really been a community effort.”

Sullivan and her staff have received about 60 requests for furniture from tenants and have distributed many of the 75 mattresses and box springs they received. Because of the donation, they've been able to fulfill 30 of the requests and expect to complete the rest in the next couple of weeks.

”We've already gotten letters from some residents thanking us for the furniture,” Sullivan said. “It's wonderful to know they're sleeping well.”
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