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Little-known charity gets families 'off the floor'

Megan Guza
| Monday, Aug. 6, 2012
Paul Chamberlain, left, 50, of Robinson Township and Phil Bonoi, 49, of Morningside load up a truck full of donated furniture to deliver to families in need as a part of the services of Off the Floor Pittsburgh on Saturday, August 4, 2012 at their North Side warehouse.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Tribune-Review
Paul Chamberlain, left, 50, of Robinson Township and Phil Bonoi, 49, of Morningside load up a truck full of donated furniture to deliver to families in need as a part of the services of Off the Floor Pittsburgh on Saturday, August 4, 2012 at their North Side warehouse. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Bob Meyers, 53, the executive director of Off the Floor Pittsburgh, looks over the organization's warehouse on the North Side that is full of donated furniture to deliver to families in need on Saturday, August 4, 2012 on the North Side.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Tribune-Review
Bob Meyers, 53, the executive director of Off the Floor Pittsburgh, looks over the organization's warehouse on the North Side that is full of donated furniture to deliver to families in need on Saturday, August 4, 2012 on the North Side. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Paul Chamberlain, left, 50, of Robinson Township tries to fit a couch through the door of a family receiving donated furniture through Off the Floor Pittsburgh on Saturday, August 4, 2012 in Port Vue as residents and sisters Alexis, center, 9, and Ashleigh Ingram, 6, right, look on.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Tribune-Review
Paul Chamberlain, left, 50, of Robinson Township tries to fit a couch through the door of a family receiving donated furniture through Off the Floor Pittsburgh on Saturday, August 4, 2012 in Port Vue as residents and sisters Alexis, center, 9, and Ashleigh Ingram, 6, right, look on. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Heather Oatman, 31, yells through the screen door as Jesse Ingram, 5, looks to lend a hand as Off the Floor Pittsburgh volunteers move donated furniture into Oatman's home on Saturday, August 4, 2012 in Port Vue.  Oatman found out about receiving aid from Off the Floor Pittsburgh through Mon Yough Community Services, an organization that supports Ingram, who is autistic.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Tribune-Review
Heather Oatman, 31, yells through the screen door as Jesse Ingram, 5, looks to lend a hand as Off the Floor Pittsburgh volunteers move donated furniture into Oatman's home on Saturday, August 4, 2012 in Port Vue. Oatman found out about receiving aid from Off the Floor Pittsburgh through Mon Yough Community Services, an organization that supports Ingram, who is autistic. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Jesse Ingram, 5, lends a hand as Off the Floor Pittsburgh volunteers move donated furniture into his Port Vue home on Saturday, August 4, 2012.  Off the Floor Pittsburgh was connected to Ingram's family through Mon Yough Community Services, an organization that supports Ingram, who is autistic.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Tribune-Review
Jesse Ingram, 5, lends a hand as Off the Floor Pittsburgh volunteers move donated furniture into his Port Vue home on Saturday, August 4, 2012. Off the Floor Pittsburgh was connected to Ingram's family through Mon Yough Community Services, an organization that supports Ingram, who is autistic. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review

Toby Neufeld knew she could make a little money by selling her mother's furniture to a thrift store after the older woman moved from Riverview Towers in Squirrel Hill to the nearby Charles Morris Nursing Home.

Instead, she donated it to Off the Floor, a program that delivers furnishings to families in need.

“I wanted to give it to someone who was going to use it,” said Neufeld, 65, of Squirrel Hill. “There are too many people in the world who need things and don't have it.”

“We fill in the gaps,” said executive director Bob Myers. “A family might have a couch, but no table and chairs and only one bed.”

Off the Floor, which has no office but operates out of a warehouse at the Pittsburgh Presbytery on the North Side, has been matching families with furniture for eight years.

Myers said the agency is not well known. “It's like we're a big secret,” she said.

“It's sad, really,” Neufeld said.

Off the Floor works with churches and other organizations that provide referrals. With only two employees and several volunteers, the agency relies on partner organizations to do casework and determine needs.

“We get referral calls every day,” Myers said. “What we give out is dependent upon what comes in.”

Last year, the agency gave furniture to 112 families and individuals, according to its Web site. More than half the families were headed by single parents, and the families included 191 children.

Neufeld said she donated her mother's furniture because she wanted to give back.

Her mother and late father were Holocaust survivors, she said, and she was born in Italy in a displaced-persons camp. Her family came to the United States when she was 3 and she remembers her humble beginnings.

“We had nothing,” she said.

Sandra Duceour, site coordinator at the Family Care Connection Center in Lawrenceville, one of Off the Floor's partners, said her group has helped seven families.

“It's been wonderful,” she said. “These are parents that are really struggling.”

Many families had almost nothing in their apartments, she said.

“It's a much-needed service,” she said. “You don't realize how many people actually have nothing.”

Myers said he strives to give families matching pieces or pieces that match what they already have. He said it's not just giving them furniture, but giving them something to be proud of.

“We want to raise someone up,” he said. “Give them something of quality that they can have a little pride in.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5644 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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