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Goldenberg Group and Lowe’s partner for charity

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Volunteers from The Goldenberg Group worked with the staff at Lowe’s Home Improvement of Plymouth Meeting recently to build dressers for residents at Stenton Family Manor homeless shelter in Philadelphia.

PLYMOUTH >> Whether it’s a five-drawer piece of Americana crafted out of oak or a vintage highboy found at an antique shop, most of us never give much thought to the humble bedroom dresser where we stash our socks and sweaters.

But imagine doing without such a simple storage solution for the essentials of daily living.

When the employee volunteers of The Goldenberg Group’s People Helping People Foundation were out renovating the Stenton Family Manor shelter for homeless families last year, that’s the situation they encountered, with many of the residents storing their clothing and other possessions in large trash bags.

“When we were doing that renovation we had a huge participation from the residents at Stenton, and all of the dads, a lot of the moms and a lot of the teens were out with us painting and weeding,” recalled Ellen Lissy Rosenberg, vice president of development and civic engagement for The Goldenberg Group. “The residents talked about the challenges and obstacles of being there, and one of the things was wanting to establish some sense of order for their kids, even though everything has been turned upside down. We saw that they were trying to establish order and yet they were living out of trash bags in a lot of the rooms.”

 Some had shelves and boxes, but they had come there with all of their worldly belongings and had nowhere to put them. We knew we had to get them a place where they could put their clothes away.”

Last week the People Helping People Foundation volunteers from the Blue Bell-based real estate development company made good on that benevolent decision.

In partnership with Lowe’s Home Improvement of Plymouth Meeting, a longtime tenant at the Metroplex, a Goldenberg Group property, volunteers crafted 61 dressers for the Stenton residents.

“We own the Metroplex and we try to involve the tenants at our properties in these volunteer events, and they often donate materials and coupons,” Rosenberg said.

“We approached Lowe’s for some of the materials with the idea of making the dressers ourselves, which would have been a terrible idea, and their store manager took the idea and ran with it.”

Someone developed a prototype for a three-drawer dresser and we paid for the materials, which they severely discounted. We pre-cut all of the wood and Lowe’s had their staff members, who I think for the most part were on the clock, out with us for two days supervising our volunteers and training everyone.”

Included in the work crew were teens from the shelter, Rosenberg noted.

“They wanted to work and learn how to build it, and so they had a very skilled worker from Lowe’s teaching them, and we probably had 100 volunteers on an assembly line, making 61 dressers, all polyurethaned (sic) and ready to be delivered. I can’t believe it really happened. I’m so proud of myself; I have blisters all over my thumbs,” she added, laughing.

The Goldenberg Group volunteers came from all departments in the company, from construction to accounting to administrative, Rosenberg said.

“A lot of them brought their wives, husbands and kids.”

The People Helping People Foundation volunteers get involved in about 15 charitable projects a year, Rosenberg allowed.

“We try to split the substance of the projects and brighten the day for some people who are, in some fashion, somehow disadvantaged, and with other projects we try to make a longer term difference. One month we might go to a Sunday breakfast mission and cook for 250 people and serve them at the table. I think that’s a great project, but by dinner time they’re hungry again, so we try to do a long term improvement project, where it would have a lasting impact, like building the dressers.

“It’s all part of our value mission and our corporate culture,” Rosenberg added. “Goldenberg is a little quirky and un-corporate anyway, and because we’re a not a public company, the buck stops with (founder and CEO) Ken Goldenberg, who is really committed to this part of the company and making an impact on the community.”