Recycle, Reuse, and Relieve


With help from Dixon Valve, Washington College is donating 44 sets of bedroom furniture to help furnish new homes for military veterans who are transitioning out of homelessness. It’s yet another example of similar donations that College employees and the community have collaborated on for several years.

Washington College has teamed up with Dixon Valve and Coupling to donate 44 bedroom sets—bed, chest of drawers, chair, and desk—to help military veterans transition from homelessness into new housing. The furniture, which in mid-July moved from the campus to the Veterans Multi-Service Center Thrift Store in Philadelphia thanks to a donated tractor-trailer from Dixon Valve, will be used for the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program.
“This is sustainability as it’s supposed to be: a triple-bottom-line project that simultaneously addresses environmental, social-justice, and financial outcomes,” says Greg Farley, the College’s director of sustainability, who helped organize the donation. “We’re reducing waste and stress on landfills, providing a benefit to a population in need, which has, itself, directly served our nation, and helping reduce our costs and costs to the federal government for veterans’ support. I also love the fact that it’s a joint effort between the College and Dixon Valve, a community partner with a long history of cooperation with Washington College.”
Farley credits the impetus for the donation to Lea Carter, auxiliary services leader in the College’s Office of Buildings and Grounds, who has been successfully working with local businesses and non-profits to manage similar donations for several years. Carter says that the College has donated blankets and linens from summer conferences and camps to organizations including the Salvation Army, local homeless shelters, the Kent County Human Society, and the Sunday Breakfast Mission in Wilmington. Furniture being cycled out of residential halls has gone to Serenity Place in Dover and Future Focus Recovery House for Women in Cambridge, among other area organizations that help people emerging from alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness, and other difficulties.
“Last year, Bob Greenwald from East Coast Storage donated a truck, fuel, and drove 27 sets of furniture to The Home of the Brave in Milford,” Carter says. The Delaware facility helps veterans in transition find housing, food, stability, and support. “It’s a collaborative effort of different people here in Chestertown, and employees here from the College who are making it happen.”

Farley says that this year, with such a large quantity of furniture, he contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs to see where there was a need. According to Rosemarie McGee, program manager at the Veterans Multi-Service Center (VMC) Thrift Store in Philadelphia, the furniture will be stored there until it is needed by the HUD-VASH program to help furnish a new home for a veteran. According to the HUD website, the HUD-VASH program combines rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VMC Thrift Store itself is a jobs program to help transitional veterans move to permanent, full-time positions, McGee says.

“While training at the VMC they help other transitional veterans move to their new homes and/or deliver their furniture from the Thrift Store,” she says. “Trainees are responsible for picking up, processing, displaying, then delivering furniture, household items, and linens. We have a very good success rate with our program, with 83 percent moving on to better positions.”

The bedroom sets came from the Cecil and Dorchester residential buildings—part of what’s known as the Quad buildings—which will receive newer furniture from the Cullen building, which comprises Worcester, Wicomico, and Somerset. The Cullen building is undergoing a yearlong renovation, and it will get new furniture as part of that project, Farley says.

The collaboration with Dixon Valve helped reduce shipping costs, Farley says, while recycling the furniture itself—rather than simply taking it to a dump—saved the College at least $2,300 in hauling fees. This latest donation comes on the heels of a donation in early July of four bedroom sets to the New Life Recovery House in Kingstown, which was furnishing a new home for people who were overcoming addiction.