Lakewood’s Lisa Robison wants to make home a happier place for people who are trying to turn their lives around.
She founded Dwell with Dignity, a non-profit outreach organization of 50 or so hands-on volunteer contractors, designers, seamstresses, artists, craftsmen, retailers and donors who help furnish and refurbish Dallas-area apartments for qualified families seeking to escape homelessness and poverty.
Robison and her team, which includes her daughter’s entire Girl Scout troop, works closely with Interfaith Housing Coalition, a non-profit that operates about 50 apartments as part of an integrated support program to help homeless families find homes.
“Volunteers such as Lisa Robison are at the heart of Interfaith Housing’s success,” says Linda Hall, Interfaith executive director.
“We utilize volunteers in key roles, whether preparing apartments [in the case of] Dwell With Dignity, or mentoring our residents in budgeting and employment retention.
Robison says great interior design improves quality of life and promotes positive attitudes.
“We’re not simply installing a design but creating inspiring homes for families so they can create their own happy memories,” she says.
Interfaith-assisted families may have suffered domestic violence; many have lived in cars or have never worked. They might want to turn things around, but find it difficult without housekeeping basics: dishes, pots and pans, tables, chairs, beds.
Dwell With Dignity volunteers, with help from contributions from sponsors (West Elm, Kendall Creative, artist Terrie Meider, Girl Scouts, The Gypsy Wagon and designer Kim Turner to name a few), contribute these fundamentals along with fascinatingly creative ideas for a turn-key move-in ready homes that set families up for success.
The families who qualify for the program follow stringent guidelines and consent to counseling. They must be substance-free for at least six months, find and keep gainful employment, and make debt restitution.
Last year, 89 percent of Interfaith tenants found and kept work. About 93 percent were able to sustain self-sufficiency, according to Interfaith statistics.
To keep helping neighbors, Robison is looking to add to her Dwell With Dignity crew.
“We’re always looking for hands-on volunteers and donors of cash or quality household items — window treatments, furniture, blankets, tableware, beds and accessories,” she says. — Jerry Donda