Michelle Maddux, the executive director of Furniture Share, surveyed a wall of about 30 donated mattresses in the nonprofit’s south Corvallis warehouse space Wednesday. Each one was already spoken for, and she needs more. In fact, she has a waiting list of an additional 165 children in Benton and Linn counties in need of a mattress to get them off the floor, or into their own bed.

The entire warehouse space — which includes couches, tables, chairs, dressers even framed paintings — turns over about once a week.

Furniture Share’s mission is to redistribute quality used furniture at no cost to children, families and individuals in need, thus diverting items from the landfill. Underlying that mission is the goal of building every client’s self worth and confidence, Maddux said.

“We want our clients to be successful, and for their kids to do well at school,” Maddux said.

Furniture Share takes “anything that makes a house a home” as long as it is in good condition, with no rips, tears or broken pieces.

Furniture Share works with more than 65 referring agencies, such as the Oregon Department of Human Services.

“Probably 95 percent of our clients work, but they are the working poor,” Maddux said.

In the past fiscal year (2009-10), Furniture Share provided household items to 3,019 individuals in Benton and Linn counties. Of that number, 1,119 were children who received a bed. In all, 6,261 pieces of furniture and household items were distributed, diverting as much as 168.1 tons from the landfill.

The nonprofit has seen steady growth in the number of individuals that it serves for the past four years. In fact, just three months into the new fiscal year, Furniture Share already has served half as many people as last year — 1,553 individuals, including providing 641 beds to children.

The nonprofit runs with very few paid employees and with steady funding for only 1¾ positions. Two additional workers are subsidized through JOBS Plus, and college interns and a large number of volunteers keep the charity running.

Maddux, originally from Texas, moved to the area 11 years ago with two children to attend George Fox University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business and organizational leadership. She got into volunteering with local service groups such as CASA — Voices For Children to give back to the community for services that she had received herself as a single mom.

Resource development director Mona Moody studied at Linn-Benton Community College and worked in real estate,  also while raising children as a single mother before she began working at Furniture Share. Both women live in Albany but work in Corvallis for the nonprofit, which serves families on both sides of the river.

“People think, ‘Oh no, not here in Corvallis,’” Moody said. “But we serve almost equal amounts of people in Corvallis and Albany.”

“I’m very passionate about it — and Michelle and I make a great team,” Moody said.

The economic downturn of the past few years have been tough for nonprofits such as Furniture Share. Charitable donations have dropped, grant sources have dried up but the demand for the service has increased.

For more information on Furniture Share and how to donate furniture or money, see www.furnitureshare.org or 541-754-9511.

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