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Posted on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

Nonprofit selling donated furniture from EMU in ex-Hollywood Video store

By Lisa Carolin

What do the black donation boxes spread around Washtenaw County have in common with the former Hollywood Video store in Ypsilanti?

Both are conduits for helping people in transition, and they're both being used by H.E.R.O.-Homeless Empowerment Relationship Organization.

The Washtenaw County nonprofit that specializes in empowerment services.

HERO recently started selling furniture from the former Hollywood Video building located at 1480 Washtenaw Avenue in Ypsilanti.

The furniture was donated by Eastern Michigan University and includes hundreds of mattresses selling for $20 apiece, chairs ranging from $5-$15 each, couches for $50, and solid wood dressers for $80.

The only catch is that HERO has use of the building just until the end of April.

"EMU called me in January saying they needed to do something with all the items they had been storing in a dormitory that closed five years ago," said Marti Rodwell, executive director of HERO. "I can't stand seeing things destroyed that people need."

Rodwell says the donation includes more than 500 mattresses, the majority in impeccable condition.

"People need mattresses more than anything," she said. "I've seen so many kids sleeping on floors."

For those who can't afford to buy furniture, Rodwell will trade volunteer hours that can earn furniture credit dollars.

In addition to volunteering opportunities, HERO offers paying jobs to some of the people it helps, like Jesse Johnson, who has been moving furniture to the Ypsilanti building.

HERO's mission is to help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to recognize their ability to achieve goals for personal growth and success. The organization offers 10 workshops designed to teach a variety of empowerment skills, including goal setting, the art of negotiation, and conflict resolution.

HERO also provides professional clothing, shoes and household items as well as toys at Christmas, baskets at Easter and school supplies in early Fall.

The Ypsilanti store will open be open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. until the end of April.

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Sun, Apr 8, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

This makes perfect sense! Thanks for a fine story about a terrific program, Lisa C!

Britt Elder Tennyson

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

HERO is a wonderful program! Thanks for spreading the word!


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

Thanks for posting this story. I saw activity around the building the other day and wondered what was up. It's nice to see that space being used, and for such a good cause.