Centre County Business Restores Furniture and Lives

 

It’s where unwanted furniture and house hold goods get a second chance, as do some of the people working on them.

It’s where inmate volunteers from the Center County Correctional Facility give new life to worn and sometimes broken items, while earning time off their sentence.

An inmate who identified himself as Richard says the program is a plus for him and many other inmates. He is in the home stretch of a six month sentence for an undisclosed offense.

“Coming here teaches work ethics and some skills with tools,” said the 36-year old Virginia native. “The program also gives you the opportunity to get home sooner.”

The program known as Project Restore focuses on employable job skills, non-violent conflict resolution and personal accountability.

Thomas Brewster has been executive director of CentrePeace for nearly ten years.

“If we can change the direction of one person and distract him or her outside the criminal justice system,” said Brewster, “then we’ve not only saved a life, we’ve saved, potentially, a family.”

Inside the crowded two story building, staff and volunteers are busy filling rooms and hallways with the refurbished goods, with sales funding the job training and counseling programs.

Outside, an open air showroom features a wide variety of furniture and cabinets,  carried from and returned to storage every day. That involves a three hour daily routine often handled by some of the inmate volunteers. But, having the furniture visible along the busy Benner Pike between State College and Bellefonte has a noticeable impact on the store’s bottom line.

“The outside location of part of the inventory brings in probably 30% more customers a day than if we don’t have any furniture out in the parking lot,” said Brewster.

In a few months, the time consuming furniture move will not be needed when CentrePeace moves next door to a newly rennovated facility with three times the storage space.

Regardless of where it happens at CentrePeace,  every sale means a brighter future for the inmates.

Nodding toward three of the inmates busy at work, Brewster added:  “At the end of their day, they can say you know, I think I did somebody some good today.”

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