Building family with furniture

TIPP CITY — New Path’s J.J. Furniture Ministry received five tables made by students of Liberty High School in Dayton.

“The team built these wonderful tables. These tables are going to be given by J.J.’s Furniture and New Path to families coming out of supportive housing. (The agencies) contact us and go, ‘hey, we have somebody coming back into society, and they need some furniture.’ Well, guess what? Now they have a kitchen table,” William Lutz, executive director of New Path Ministries, said.

New Path works directly with agencies in and around Miami and Montgomery counties to provide furniture to people re-entering society in many ways, be it from incarceration, domestic violence situations, halfway houses, homelessness, or other situations. According to Lutz, New Path specifically wanted tables to give to five different families, in order to provide a place to gather for meals as well as offer children a place to do their schoolwork — something especially important when schools are still offering remote learning options due to the ongoing pandemic.

“That’s what these families that are coming out need more than anything else. We can give them beds, we can give them recliners, but it’s hard to build family when you don’t have a table to enjoy a meal around,” Lutz said.

The students who helped build the tables are Adrian Coaston, Blake Glaser, Martin Ross, Brandon Burke, Edward Porter, Joshua Harrow, and Logan Hall. They are all volunteers with Youthbuild and AmeriCorps, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Corporation for National Service that targets at-risk youth and ex-offending adults 17 to 21 years old who have not completed high school. YouthBuild is the vehicle that builds participants’ resumes and markets them as employable young adults. They earn their high school diplomas through a partnership with Liberty High School while gaining industry-recognized credentials necessary to enter the job market. Participants also receive post-secondary education scholarships from AmeriCorps for the service hours they provide in the community.

In addition to building the donated tables, the students who participated in this project also help build housing through YouthBuild in the Fort McKinley neighborhood of North Dayton and Harrison Township.

“It’s for a good cause. Ain’t nothing wrong with doing that,” Coaston said.

According to Guy LaPlante, the construction instructor for AmeriCorp who worked with the Liberty High School students on the project, it took them roughly half a day to build one table and two weeks to get all five tables built and finished for donation. While this is the first time they have donated tables to J.J.’s Furniture, they plan to build and donate more in the future. They’re also working to build beds that can be put together without tools — something he said could be beneficial to someone just starting out or starting over.

“I think what’s really important about this particular program is the lessons and the things that these young men and women are going to learn from this experience. They can come to school and they can get their high school diploma, but I think, in ten years when these young men are thinking back on what they’ve done in their life and what they’ve contributed to their communities, they will see situations like this and know that the hard work they put in will have a lasting effect on these families and what they’re able to do as they get started back into society,” Randy Smoot, director of Liberty High School, said.

Anyone wishing to help out J.J.’s Furniture Ministry and New Path with furniture donation can contact (937) 669-1213.