SJ Teen Residential Space gets IKEA Makeover

Courier Post-Celeste Whittaker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

CAMDEN-A Center for Family Services building was abuzz with activity Tuesday as workers put together furniture, hung paintings and brightened a place up that eight young men call home.

The center was one of 42 charities across the country to receive an IKEA makeover and product donations for winning the 2015 IKEA Life Improvement Challenge.

The teen living program, which provides a safe home for males ages 13 to 18, was awarded $10,000 in home furnishings and all the fixings.

“It is awesome,” said Edward Holland, a program director for five years. “It’s much needed. You know when it’s time to get new furniture and everything else. Right at that time, IKEA came in and basically said they’d give us a new makeover. I almost cried. Some of my staff did cry. It really was cool for everybody.

“Our kids will greatly appreciate it. It’s going to help them therapeutically. It’s going to be something they can actually own and actually have as their own.”

IKEA of South Philadelphia staffers showed up at 9 a.m. Tuesday and worked for hours to get things just right.

Each of the three bedrooms got a makeover, including new bedding, pillows and dressers. There were large blue lockers put in, as well as new closet installations, shoe benches and more.

There’s a computer room, which includes a new desk and chair, as well as a brand new media center for the TV and colorful new lamps. There’s also bigger sitting area, which has a new couch and chair.

“It’s wonderful,” said Samantha Eisenman, local marketing specialist with IKEA South Philadelphia, who was there with nine other IKEA workers. “It’s our Life Improvement Challenge. Every year, IKEAs across the country, our coworkers nominate the nonprofit and then our customers and coworkers vote on who wins. Center for Family Services was the winner for our store.

“One of our coworkers designed the whole project, then we get a group to come and build.”

The IKEA Life Improvement Challenge, which started in 2011, has donated more than $1 million in IKEA products, design expertise and manpower to more than 120 charities.

“It feels fantastic,” says Jen Hammill, director of community relations for Center for Family Services. “We are so grateful to have the support from IKEA and we’re also so grateful to all of our fans who helped to make this possible by voting for us.

“Our programs create a safe, home environment for young people that are in need of some safety and support and encouragement.”

Center for Family Services programs include temporary shelters, residential treatment facilities, foster care, transitional living programs and permanent affordable housing.

“The boys will come home and will see this beautiful change,” said Center for Family Services Chief Operating Officer Eileen Henderson. “It’s like on TV when you’re coming home to a complete makeover. Where you live is so important and how you feel about where you live. I think they’re going to feel good about their place.”

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