Furniture store offers jobs for area veterans

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George Kern is a sales associate at Full Circle Furnishings. The mission of Full Circle Furnishings is to create jobs for veterans and other residents in Rock Valley Community Program's transitional housing programs.

Full Circle Furnishings is a win-win for the community, according to Rock Valley Community Programs (RVCP) Community Development Director Bobbie Stahl.

"Hotels can feel good and get a tax deduction on donations, residents can get a place to work and the community will get good quality used furniture at a reasonable price," Stahl said.

Caravilla, Inc. is pleased to announce the Grand Opening of Full Circle Furnishings, 2526 Riverside Drive. Full Circle Furnishings is a resale shop bursting at the seams with gently used and modestly priced quality home furnishings. The public is invited to a grand opening celebration today from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Regular business hours will be Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Full Circle Furnishings' mission is to create jobs for veterans and other residents living in RVCP's transitional housing programs. Providing the residents employment opportunities will assist them during their transition back to independent living, thus improving their long-term success with permanent housing and stable employment.

Full Circle Furnishings is a division of Caravilla, Inc., a non-profit, 501C3 agency.

On Thursday, Stahl along with Training Project Coordinator Stefanie Hernandez, Executive Director for RVCP Angel Eggers, Sales Associate George Kern, Community Service Coordinator and Store Manager Rick Sors and Veterans Service Director Kathy Arndt were preparing for the grand opening. The space, formerly a boat and computer repair business, was almost full of high quality furniture, donated by hotels.

Because there is limited storage room and staff wanted to keep goods at a high quality, general furniture donations aren't accepted from the public. The business receives donations from hotels which need to update their furniture. Beds, sofas, ottomans, lamps, pictures, a couple refrigerators and more were on sale for a fraction of the retail price. Hotels from as far as Tomah and Green Bay have made donations as well as the local Fairfield Inn in Beloit.

Renovations at the Caravilla Homeless Veterans Transitional Housing Program were completed in April. RVCP renovated 24 studio apartments, two of which are handicap accessible. Each unit can provide housing for two homeless veterans, serving 48 homeless veterans at a time. Currently there are 35 veterans living in the facility. There are 13 beds open and Eggers said staff will be working to get more homeless veterans moved in soon in light of the changing weather.

Full Circle Furnishings gives the veterans employment opportunities. Eggers said the veterans have been instrumental in moving the large furniture to the store in a timely fashion.

"We are available and ready to go when the hotel calls," Eggers said.

Most of the store is filled, but there is furniture from 26 rooms of a hotel arriving soon. There is a semi trailer which will be used for storage.

Some of the veterans like George Kern will be working as sales associates. Kern, who was the program's first veteran to move in and is a resident manager, said he has plenty of experience in sales working with the public, calling it "intriguing and challenging." He said knows how to read customers so he can help them, while giving them their space.

Kern, a Vietnam Veteran said he was going through a difficult time and had lost him home in foreclosure before moving into the veteran's wing. He said the facilities are like a little apartment, and provide comfort and privacy. He enjoys the patio area with little barbecue grills as well as the many outings the veterans get to go on.

Stahl said the community has been extremely supportive in the form of donations, volunteer hours and mentorships to veterans. Frito-Lay and PepsiCo helped get the clothing closet together and sponsored a room, a $10,000 donation. They also put in the patio area with grills and landscaping for the veterans.

The Moose Lodge and the Olive Garden are all treating the veterans to special meals. Veterans often go on trips and have been to the Wisconsin State Fair as well as the Rock County Fair this summer. One of the veterans in the program is employed as a driver.

"We have a lot to do and it's enjoyable," Kern said.

Kern helps coordinate trips for veterans to the Veterans Hospital in Madison, and the Disabled American Veteran program (DAV) provides a van which is driven by volunteers.

"It's been a huge assistance to our agency," Eggers said.

Eggers said the program is collecting winter coats, hats, gloves, hygiene products, laundry soap, towels, blankets and twin bed sheets.

Those who want to mail a donation can send them to Homeless Veteran's Program, care of Rock Valley Community Programs, Inc. 203 W. Sunny Lane Road, Janesville, WI 53546. Anyone interested in making a donation can contact RVCP at 608-741-4500. The number of Full Circle Furnishings is 608-365-2130.

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