In 2003, Bridging AZ Furniture Bank began as a ministry of St. Barnabas on the Desert Episcopal Church by Jim & Donna Piscopo. The response was so overwhelming Bridging AZ incorporated as a nonprofit in 2004. Bridging AZ serves as a clearinghouse for donated furniture and household goods, which are distributed to qualified families and individuals in need.
We are particularly concerned about helping homeless and unemployed veterans. There are many veterans who, for a multitude of reasons, may not qualify for a Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) voucher from the VA. Bridging AZ steps in to help those veterans, who are very often chronically homeless, physically disabled, and/or have other life challenges. Before counselors can help remedy many of the underlying causes of their homelessness (PTSD, substance abuse, chronic medical issues), their clients need a stable home. Without a place to call “home,” many will repeat events which got them into their cycle of poverty and homelessness. We work with case managers from social service agencies who identify and qualify chronically homeless veterans and then secure housing for them through a permanent supportive housing program.
Over the years, Bridging AZ has provided over 280,000 pieces of furniture and household items for more than 60,000 families and individuals and has furnished over 1,000 apartments for chronically homeless veterans. Bridging AZ is a recipient of “Scottsdale’s Non-Profit of the Year Sterling Award,” and Bank of America’s “Local Hero Award.”
Now, Bridging AZ has created a workshop, the Veterans’ Furniture Project, where disabled, unemployed, and formerly homeless American veterans learn how to build and design furniture and other products. In the process, they rebuild their own lives, regaining confidence, learning basic and advanced woodworking skills and helping their community.
The Veterans’ Furniture Project woodworking shop is located at Bridging AZ’s Mesa warehouse in four 8-by-40-foot metal shipping containers. The containers were placed on a large cement pad and have been modified and joined together around a central courtyard. Inside these modified shipping containers – once used to import goods to the U.S. – the VFP teaches veterans how to build and design furniture and other products, made-in-the-USA!