Puyallup: News

Renovated room at Helping Hand House gives children a place to ‘rekindle hope’

At the end of July, IKEA renovated an unused office room into a kid’s play room at Helping Hand House in Puyallup.
At the end of July, IKEA renovated an unused office room into a kid’s play room at Helping Hand House in Puyallup. jbessex@gateline.com

For many years, IKEA’s distribution warehouse in Fredrickson has been helping Puyallup’s Helping Hand House, a nonprofit organization that fights to end family homelessness, by providing home furnishings.

At the end of July, IKEA took its help to another level by turning an unused office room at the nonprofit into a children’s play room.

The staff at Helping Hand House is used to seeing children accompany their parents as they seek help. They used to play with toys in the middle of the floor, but now they have a place to go that’s all their own.

“Sometimes parents will bring in their children, and if (they’re) doing paperwork, what are (the children) going to do?” said Kevin Bates, executive director of Helping Hand House. “That’s where the room comes in handy.”

When the organization’s contact at IKEA found out about the unused room, she asked IKEA’s designers to see what they could do. Soon after, IKEA sent out two helpers equipped with paint and furniture that they put together themselves. It took the workers only two days to finish the room.

“It went above and beyond what I had expected,” said Laurie Jackson, director of community engagement with Helping Hand House. “I think (the room) was waiting for something like this to happen to it.”

IKEA didn’t just redesign the room, but it donated everything inside it as well. The 94-square-foot room is complete with chalkboards, bean bags, chairs, pillows, a kid’s desk and books. The walls are freshly painted green and white, with the words “dream,” “wish,” and “read” stenciled in black.

It went above and beyond what I had expected. I think (the room) was waiting for something like this to happen to it.

Laurie Jackson, director of community engagement at Helping Hand House

Jackson said IKEA has been providing Helping Hand House with furnishing for longer than she can remember. Once, it donated around 100 pillows for the organization’s family houses.

“IKEA has always been a big supporter of ours,” Jackson said. “If we have a need of something, they’re able to accommodate us a lot.”

Helping Hand House provides more than 10 housing units for families in need of a place to stay before getting back on their feet and finding a place of their own. Five of these units are in the Puyallup area and two are in Sumner. Four additional units were donated by the South Hill Rotary Club.

Last year, the organization helped 140 families — around 500 individuals. It can house from 25 to 30 families at any given time.

The organization focuses on housing, but it tries to provide families with as many resources as it can. Along with help from IKEA and the South Hill Rotary, Helping Hand House partners with many other local groups, from churches to food banks. The nonprofit even sometimes get Amazon packages sent to its doorstep, filled with donations.

“We couldn’t do what we do without our partnerships,” Bates said. “I’m surrounded by incredible folks all over the place.”

Already, children of all ages are using the room. Some of the older kids sit in the room and read to the younger ones, said Jackson.

“It’s fun to go in and draw with (the kids) and play cars with them,” Jackson said. “We try to have something to do for all ages.”

The room is next to the conference and copy rooms where the Helping Hand House staff work with families. Parents can see their children playing from across the hall. The renovated space gives the children, who might not have a room of their own, a place to have fun and “rekindle hope,” Bates said.

“One of the things we hope when a family comes in here is that they are in a positive atmosphere and feel safe,” Jackson said. “The new room adds the extra spark to those visits.”

For information about Helping Hand House and its programs, visit helpinghandhouse.org.

Allison Needles: 253-256-7043, @herald_allison