How Cair-ity Began
During the summer of 2014, at age 16, Maria Paparella decided to right a wrong that she found in the foster care system. When teenagers in foster care turn the age of 18 the State of Ohio no longer provides financial support to the foster families. At that moment, these teenagers face a life event. They are either welcomed by their foster family to remain with them, or they find a relative that allows them to move in, some go to college, and others are forced to move out, some immediately, to find an apartment and begin living on their own.
In the cases where the graduates from the foster care system are released to live on their own, Summit County Children’s Services (“SCCS”) helps them secure an apartment, helps them find a job, and provides whatever other support they can to ensure those teenagers get the best possible chance to succeed. The one “hole” in the system is that SCCS has no ability to collect, inventory, and redistribute furniture to the teenagers in their new apartments.
Maria suggested to SCCS that she could fill that hole. She worked on a business and logistics plan, presented it to SCCS, and struck a business relationship that is blossoming.
Over the course of four months from formally launching Chair-ity, Maria collected enough furniture to outfit approximately seven apartments. The first delivery was made on January 31 to a teenage girl released from her foster family at age 18 who had been living in an apartment on her own with nothing more than an air mattress. By the end of that delivery, her apartment had a brand new bed (mattress, box spring, and frame), dresser for the bedroom, dinette set, sofa, chair, cocktail table and two lamps. That day included two more deliveries, for a total of three, to recent graduates of the foster care system.
Chair-ity is serving a much needed service by helping these graduates make their house a home – a place where they can look forward to returning after a hard day of work and a place that gives them hope as they begin the rest of their lives.