Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Salvation Army's New Gathering Room like a 'Dream'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Salvation Army's New Gathering Room like a 'Dream'

Article excerpt

Byline: Cindy Holifield & Sandy Strickland

One woman walked in the family gathering room at the Salvation Army homeless shelter and walked right back out, saying she thought she was dreaming.

What caused her about-face was the room's transformation. Ashley Furniture HomeStore employees spent weeks planning and redecorating the room, which is in the Towers Memorial Social Services Center at 900 W. Adams St. It is the central congregating area for homeless families and children living in the shelter

"They were very appreciative of how nice and homey it felt," said Jill Black, public relations coordinator for the Salvation Army of Northeast Florida.

Some put their hands over their mouths in disbelief while others declared it wasn't the same room, Black said.

Before, the room had mismatched furniture, a dingy look, weathered carpeting and holes in the walls.

"It was a tremendous group effort," Kate Banse, chief optimizing officer with Ashley, said in a news release, adding that the carpeting was replaced with tile. "We removed the outdated furniture, including lamps and wall art. We repaired holes in the walls and gave the room fresh paint."

Black said a light, airy scheme was used with buttery yellow walls, durable brown leather sofas and high-top tables and bar stools where kids could do homework or eat. Other features include a cozy reading corner with two overstuffed chairs and a floor lamp, coffee tables with four ottomans underneath and an area where students can hang their book bags, she said.

Ashley also donated 50 mattresses to be given to families when they find housing (some stay at the shelter for as long as nine months to a year). Best Buy donated a flat-screen TV for the room.

Here's more good news:

- Ronald McDonald himself led the "Tot Trot" at the 11th annual Children's Way 5K & Family Day. The event raised almost $100,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville with more than 900 runners participating in the various races. Afterward, there was a free Family Festival with games, face painting and cotton candy.

- Jim Clark, president of Daniel for 13 years, has been inducted into the Hall of Fame at Ohio State University's College of Social Work. …

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