Movers & Shakers is a furniture ministry of volunteers serving the north metro Atlanta area, perhaps very near your neighborhood. We are proud to partner with many outstanding community organizations to provide furniture for our clients, transforming their house into a home. Please listen to some of their stories and consider how you might become involved today.
Bayo Otiti, Bridge Between Walls
Tim Cummins, Whirlwind Missions
Michelle Alcorn, Rainbow Village
Shirley Cabe, Norcross Cooperative Ministries
Board Member, Recipient and Rainbow Village Representative
Why Give to Movers & Shakers? by: Frank Smith
Well, for starters, there’s my family’s history in the furniture business, which I mentioned to Lee [Williams]. It’s almost impossible to say how vital the furniture industry was in Martinsville (Virginia) where I grew up. Bassett Furniture, Hooker Furniture, American of Martinsville, Stanley, Gravely — these were the main employers in town as well as a tremendous source of pride. They put us on the map and made us one of the most prosperous cities in the state. And American’s big-throated whistle that signaled the work day’s beginning at 7 am, lunch at noon, end of lunch at 1 pm and quitting time at 5? Man, you could hear it all over the town
My father worked at American for 23 years, rising to Senior VP before moving to become president of another furniture company in MS. I myself worked in the docks over a lot of summers, trying to beat the whistle in the mornings and loading trucks and boxcars till it blew again and I headed home. In those days you could say wood resin and furniture glue flowed in my veins — ha, if you wanted to be corny! Or you could say furniture was, and is to this day, a big part of my hometown, my family and of me.
So a ministry that uses furniture as a vehicle of God’s loving care? Wow, of course it’s going to be something I want to support, any way I can.
But there’s also a deeper reason Movers & Shakers appeals to me.
Frank Capra articulated it pretty amazingly (as he did most things) in his classic It’s A Wonderful Life. My absolute favorite movie. Lee and I used to watch it every Christmas at UVA, because there was a tradition (sadly since abandoned) of showing it during exam week to perk everyone up during finals and help them make it to the holiday. I know you’ve seen it. Do you remember that scene when old Mr. Potter was trying to take over the Building and Loan, and mocking George Bailey’s father for catering to the poor, extending loans that never made money for the stockholders (read: Mr. Potter himself)? And George’s response? I’m paraphrasing, but I know it almost by heart.
“What’d you say ? That they had to wait and save their money before even thinking of a decent home…? Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they’re so old and broken down that they die first? Do you know how long it takes a poor man to save $5,000? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that these people you’re talking about do most of the working and paying and living and dying in Bedford Falls. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms, with furniture and a bath? My father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him.”
Remembering that we’re all human beings made in the image of God, that even the lowest and the loneliest have value and are priceless in His sight — that’s really important to me. As we spread the good news of the Gospel — that God forgives our very real (and deadly) sin — we need to likewise remind our neighbors that as broken and fallen as we are, we’re still made in His image. That everyone has worth and dignity.
We can do that by treating them as such, by the way we interact with and respect both them and their rights: sir and no sir, ma’am and yes ma’am. And we can do that by helping them acquire things that you and I almost take for granted: furniture to furnish a home, a suit of clothes or a nice dress / pantsuit to wear to work or church, a means of transportation. Furnishing can mean a free gift with no strings attached, or it can mean a way to earn those things that’s doable and within the person’s means — I leave that to the ministry’s judgment. But I feel it’s a vital part of our message.
My wife Judy and I have been cooking at the Salvation Army shelter for 20 years, this coming January. And for the last three of them I’ve been a burr in the local Captain’s saddle. The reason? 3 years ago a decision was made to stop using real plates and saucers and cups and bowls, and switch to cheap throwaway paper products. Easy to throw away, and no one has to work afterwards — no need for the diners to wash dishes or mop, and no need for staffers / volunteers to supervise their cleanup. The homeless just get shuttled back to their rooms (if residents) or outside (if off the street). Win-win, right?
But that rubbed against what both Judy and I believe so passionately: these are adult human beings, not animals or (at best) children to be cheaply and quickly fed and then shuttled off. They deserve the best meal that we can prepare for them. They deserve to eat it off clean china, drinking from real glasses and using real metal flatware. And, as human beings with dignity, they are owed our time as they learn — or relearn, or are reminded — that God’s intention for His adult children is that they put in work for their needs, as each of them is able.
I’m glad to say that just two months ago, the Captain relented and we’re back to real plates. So, yay!
Lee and I were in FCA at UVA, and one of the songs we used to sing was “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love”. One of the stanzas said it so well:
“We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity / And save each man’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
That aspect of Movers and Shakers, the guarding of dignity, and the salvation of (good, not deadly) pride — that’s something often overlooked in ministry to the poor, and with which I resonate. There are so many wonderful facets of your ministry, and I love them all. But giving the poor the dignity of a home with real furniture, chairs to sit in and desks to work at and beds for their children to bounce on and sleep in — I love that maybe especially.
God bless, Frank