Adapted to correct inaccuracies in the Fayetteville Observer article published January 16, 2018; see link below for original article:
Cheri Smith is the energetic founder and chief executive officer of Designing Station, a furniture bank where a struggling family can pay just $150 to furnish a home. As she likes to say, the same rule applies whether they have one person in the family or 10.
But during a particularly tough time in November, she was thinking of hanging it all up – while waiting on the Lord for an answer.
Then she received a phone call in her office on Eastern Boulevard. She remembers the exact time, 4:06 p.m.
“I’m sitting here at the front desk answering the phone,” Smith said. “They asked for the person in charge and I said you’ve got her. And he responded with, ‘Well I’m the person in charge here, and you’ve got me. Tell me a little bit about your organization.’ ”
The caller was Daniel Fogarty, Executive Director of Beds for Kids, a Charlotte-based nonprofit that operates similarly to Designing Station. The organization had been enlisted by Ashley HomeStore to find a partner in the Fayetteville area to distribute new beds for children and donated furniture for their families.
On Tuesday morning, a tractor-trailer will bring 76 sets of new mattresses and box springs, sizes queen and twin, to Designing Station. Smith will have a dozen volunteers ready to unload. This past Saturday, another group of volunteers cleared space in her warehouse.
“I thought Designing Station was over,” she says. “We had a whole bunch of sofas but there was really no movement, and I was praying, all of us, our board members, ‘God what is going on?’ The last six months, pharaoh was behind us and the Red Sea was in front of us and we didn’t know where to go.”
The same afternoon of the phone call, at 6 p.m., Smith was scheduled to speak before the woman’s group at Haymount Presbyterian Church. She was prepared to talk about how her nonprofit was in trouble.
“Instead of telling them about that story,” she says, “we were able to tell them about Beds for Kids.”
Fogarty said the Ashley HomeStore in Fayetteville, along with 15 other Ashley HomeStores, are owned by Charlotte-based Broad River Retail, a licensee of Ashley HomeStore. All of Broad River’s Ashley HomeStores are located in the Carolinas, with the exception of one in Augusta, Georgia. The Company allocates a portion of every mattress sale to a fund that provides mattresses to Beds for Kids, which distributes them to the communities in which the company operates.
He says the mattress delivery “is a direct result of the people in Fayetteville supporting that, and Ashley HomeStore supporting the local community.”
Fogarty, who plans to be there for the Tuesday delivery, says Designing Station was a natural partner.
“We knew this place had a tremendous heart for the City of Fayetteville,” he says, “and was doing excellent work.”
Smith says Designing Station and Beds for Kids are similar in other ways. Both grew out of a storage unit. She visited Beds for Kids and said the warehouse layout reminded her of her own; they are even the same size at 10,008 square feet.
Both nonprofits have a spiritual focus.
On its website, Designing Station quotes 1 Peter 4: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace …”
Designing Station T-shirts and other materials cites 2 Corinthians 8:14: “Right now, you have plenty & can help those in need …”
Smith was an interior designer who dreamed of designing Oprah’s home, when she says Christ lay on her heart to start saving furniture to give to others. She founded Designing Station in 2012.
Now, she gets a thrill to watch a family – many of them recently homeless – pick items in the warehouse showroom. Families are referred by service agencies.
Dom Kusumoto, who works with the Cumberland Disaster Relief Coalition, has steered victims of Hurricane Matthew to Designing Station. He also volunteers there.
“You cannot get a better bang for your buck than $150 to outfit a house,” he says. Designing Station accepts new and gently used furniture. Smith says mattresses are “an ongoing prayer.”
“And not just mattresses. New mattresses. We want to represent Christ and do things in excellence.
“We sort of put it out there: We give out quality.”