Found in Faith Ministries is now Fresh Start Furnishings! After nearly seven years as Found in Faith, the organization and its leadership recognized the need to clarify our identity and expand our mission. We needed a FRESH START to continue providing those facing financial hardship in our community with the furniture and home goods resources they need, while also expanding the scope of what we can provide. Through this transition, we will be better equipped to more holistically support our clients and to ensure that their Fresh Start is as successful as our own.
Found in Faith Ministries was founded in 2016 when three ladies from three different churches met to discuss a community need they had been addressing independently. While there were organizations in Harford County who assisted the underserved with finding adequate shelter and housing, there was no organization in that helped families furnish these houses and transform them into safe, comfortable homes.
Through their individual efforts the ladies helped 5 families a month on average, but they knew that many in the community were not receiving the necessary help that would lead them to become independent, contributing members of the community. It was decided that forming a nonprofit would be the most valuable way to significantly meet this need and that a larger storage facility would be necessary. A board was recruited and quickly got to work on both goals. By December 2017, Found in Faith Ministries received its official tax-exempt designation and by February 2018 the ministry moved from an old residential home on the back of a church property to a beautiful 4,800 sq.ft. warehouse space in Joppa, MD.
Despite our big vision at that time, the board decided that focusing solely on growing the capacity of the Fresh Start Furniture Program would bring the most benefit to the community. We began increasing our outreach in the community to solicit new donors and connecting with other community organizations to increase our referrals. By diversifying our grant portfolio, networking and increasing sponsorship opportunities we were able to raise enough funding to bring on our first part-time administrative employee in July 2020. Her first task was to help us implement a new CRM database system which has allowed us to collect better data, improve reporting and run operations more efficiently. We also brought on a volunteer donations coordinator to work with our Program Director and coordinate donation drop-offs. In July 2021, the then volunteer Executive Director came on part-time to manage the increasing needs of the organization and ongoing capacity building.
In January 2021, we were informed that our building had been sold and that the new owner was not interested in renewing our contract. We quickly got to work looking for a new location and in December 2022 we moved to a new building in Aberdeen. Though the square footage is smaller, the ceilings are high enough to add a second floor and the location is more conveniently accessible to both donors and clients. After completing our first strategic planning sessions in early 2022, we have recently increased our board membership from 7 to 11 in preparation for our future social enterprise goals.
As of July 2023, the Fresh Start Furniture Program has furnished over 1,1260 homes with more than $290,000 worth of donated goods, proudly rescuing these reusable items from their fated landfill destination. We have increased our revenue by 2000%, expanded our regular volunteers by 900%, and elevated those served by over 350%. Our current capacity allows us to serve an average of 215 of the 300+ families that contact us each year.