One House at a Time—or as we call it for short, OHAAT [oh-hat]—was formed in 1998 as a social ministry of Upper Dublin Lutheran Church. Two industrious women equipped with a station wagon collected donations of furniture and delivered them to low-income fire and flood victims referred by the American Red Cross. In 2001 our ad hoc furniture bank became an official corporation with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Over the next ten years, we gradually expanded OHAAT’s operations. We brought on additional referral partners and volunteer organizations. We purchased a 16-foot box truck to facilitate transportation. And we moved into a 1,600 SF storage facility donated by Gloria Dei Church. By 2011 we were furnishing over 200 homes in Greater Philadelphia each year.
In 2011 OHAAT’s Board of Directors made a major organizational change. They phased out the furniture bank in order to focus all efforts on Beds for Kids, a supplementary program begun in 2001 that provides new beds and bedding for children and youth. The board felt that Beds for Kids addressed a more critical need, and by narrowing focus, we would be able to improve and expand the program. Since this decision, Beds for Kids has grown from serving 350 children and youth each year to over 1,000. It also includes more than just beds and bedding. We now provide tools that encourage healthy bedtime habits like books and toothbrushes as well as sleep education, which has been proven to increase the amount of sleep that children receive each night. Most recently, we joined the fight against bed bugs by switching to an entirely bed bug resistant bed and providing vital information that can help families prevent and treat infestations.