Innovative Partnership Provides People in Need with Furniture They Need

‘When residents move out of their independent living apartment, sometimes they do not need any or all of their personal items.’ – Lois DiStefano. Photo: Kendal on Hudson

Lifting Up Westchester is getting some love in the form of donations from a local senior community. Kendal on Hudson, a life plan community in Sleepy Hollow, is repurposing some of their furniture and other items and giving them a second life through LUW.  

The partnership was made possible by interior designer Devin Bandelli, who recently moved to New York and wanted to find a nonprofit to partner with. She saw an opportunity to give back by donating her time and expertise. “I realize in my industry, my services can be considered a luxury that not everyone gets to be a part of,” she explained. “I can get lost in the design world when I’m selecting thousand-dollar beds for a client, but I also need to remember there are people who don’t have a bed. There are also people who have never had a place they can call home.” Bandelli did some research, found LUW and fell in love with everything it stands for. She started personally donating to them and giving clients an opportunity to match her donations. She said, “As a designer I’ve always tried to keep items that clients no longer want and donate them to a local non-profit or families in need.” 

Bandelli was hired by Kendal on Hudson just a few weeks ago. She said it was a big aha moment for her community involvement. “I saw an apartment that was full of furniture and decor items. I asked if they’d be interested in donating to LUW, reached out to LUW and they loved the idea.” 

Lois DiStefano, director of marketing at Kendal on Hudson, is grateful for this unique partnership. “When residents move out of their independent living apartment, sometimes they do not need any or all of their personal items,” she explained. “Family members might be at a distance or not have the space for additional furniture.” In these cases, Kendal on Hudson is tasked with clearing out the apartments. DiStefano says, “We were excited to find out about LUW because cherished items can now be shared with others. The residents and families are equally happy.” 

Devin Bandelli and Lois DiStefano prepare furnishings for their new home. Photo supplied

Jessica Timms, Lifting Up Westchester’s chief development officer, believes this partnership is special, in part, because it “fosters a sense of community and solidarity between different social groups. It can develop empathy and understanding between the broader community and individuals who are formerly homeless.” Finding the right organizations and individuals to partner with LUW is vital because in assisting the homeless, success lies in finding housing and helping to make it feel like a real home. Timms said, “For many of our clients, being placed in their own apartment – sometimes for the first time in their lives – can be an overwhelming fresh start; the donations from KOH residents set them up for success.” 

Timms and her team just picked up furniture from Kendal on May 7 and she’s happy to report that the donations will have, “a significant impact on their housing clients.” DiStefano appreciates that the partnership aligns with Kendal on Hudson’s values. She said, “There is a deep commitment to sustainability here. Keeping personal items out of the landfill fulfills one of our goals.” 

By encouraging the families to donate some of their gently used furniture, Bandelli, DiStefano and Timms have created a symbiotic relationship that lifts up all parties involved. Having an interior designer in the mix ensures that the items are not only donated and used but implemented with purpose and personality. Bandelli says, “I know this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship but I’m still trying to figure out how I can donate my time to LUW as well and offer design services for free to people who are getting housing. Because my job as a designer is to make a space feel like home. I want them to feel deserving and make their space feel like who they are. Not just a space with other people’s items. That alone can make such a difference.” 

To find out more about Lifting Up Westchester and to support its mission to provide life-changing support to people who have lost their housing or are struggling to meet other basic needs, contact Jessica Timms at or 914-949-3098 x 9737.


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About the Author: Steve Pavlopoulos