New charity helps formerly homeless

  • Libby Kolasinski, founder of Help to Home, holds blankets that will go to needy families. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Help to Home Contributed photo

  • Help to Home Contributed photo

Recorder Staff
Sunday, July 16, 2017

SUNDERLAND — There’s a new charity in town helping formerly homeless families make their new abode a home: Help to Home, founded by the same people behind Adopt-A-Family of Franklin County.

“I’ve been thinking about this for 10 years because it’s been difficult knowing that these poor people don’t have access to bedroom, bathroom or kitchen necessities,” said Libby Kolasinski, founder of the Franklin County charity Help to Home at her Russell Street home, the charity’s base of operations.

In Help to Home’s storage area, pots, pans, blankets, sheets, kitchen utensils, shower curtains and rugs were stacked to the ceiling Friday, as a few volunteers organized items in preparation for the charity’s official launch this week — everything will soon go to needy families.

The recently formed nonprofit’s mission is “to help previously homeless families as they find a new place to call home,” a news statement about the charity announces.

Kolasinski also runs Adopt-A-Family of Franklin County, a longstanding charity which has been making Christmases cheerier for county families in need for three decades.

“If someone wants to make cookies but they don’t have cookie sheets or mixers, they can’t make cookies. The need is great enough for this to help many families,” Kolasinski continued. “On the Adopt-A-Family wish list, there’s a spot that says ‘household needs.’ More than any year before, the household items were simply everyday things.”

Kolasinski was inspired to begin Help to Home through her involvement with Adopt-A-Family. Year after year, participants in the charitable program asked for basic home necessities — anything that’s needed to make a house feel like a home — on wish lists, which were later met through donations.

“Homeless and shelter or hotel life is a sad reality for many families. There are area agencies that help to find housing, but give only a small stipend to ‘set up’ this home with kitchen, bathroom and bedroom necessities,” the statement continues.

Starting out, Kolasinski said Help to Home needs money with which to purchase home necessities both new and used at stores, auctions, and tag sales. Those items will be added to the organization’s inventory, stored in Kolasinski’s garage.

Monetary donations will not be used for rent or salaries. Help to Home is entirely volunteer run, Kolasinski said, noting there’s no financial overhead to the organization because it’s small.

Similar to Adopt-A-Family — which has an entirely different funding stream with a different mission, Kolasinski stressed — Help to Home will work with various Franklin County agencies helping those in need to connect with eligible families.

Kicking off the charity’s inaugural year, Help to Home will hold a fundraising gala later this month — with food, social time and light drinks.

The gala will be held Friday, July 21, in the Old Deerfield Community Hall at 80 Old Main St. starting at 6 p.m. There is no dress code for the fundraiser; Kolasinski noted it’s intended to raise money through donations. Anyone who wants to attend must RSVP by emailing libbykol@comcast.net.

Anyone who’s interested in contributing should send checks made out to “Help to Home” to 140 Russell St., Sunderland, MA 01375. For those who can’t make the gala but wish to get involved, more information can be found by emailing Kolasinski or calling her at 413-665-7031.