You might have seen them motoring around town — big green and white trucks with “Mustard Seed Furniture Bank” printed in large lettering on the side.
Suzie Jordan, executive director at Mustard Seed, says these trucks have traditionally been one of the primary ways that people learn about the organization, the mission of which is “To help families and individuals who have experienced catastrophic situations rebuild their lives.”
It’s a monumental task, but simple in design. The organization takes donations of basic household items like furniture, linens, and kitchen items from community members and partners like local furniture businesses, and then distributes them to those in need of help.
Recipients are referred to the organization by affiliated churches, schools, and social service agencies. In 2014, Mustard Seed served 685 households in a 7-county area, consisting of 1,032 adults and 1,091 children. Over 12 years of operation, the organization has served more than 10,000 adults and 12,000 children in the area.
Many of these children were the recipients of beds through the Mustard Seed’s Beds4Kids program, which provides frames and new mattresses to kids through a local partnership with the Wolf Corporation.
“We’ve given over 6,400 beds to kids,” Jordan said.
These numbers are a testament to the hard work of the organization’s employees and volunteers — last year alone, volunteers logged more than 2,200 hours of assistance. Most of this is spent sorting donations, which can be dropped off at the Mustard Seed location, 3636 Illinois Rd. in Fort Wayne, 46804.
Three days a week employees drive around town, performing the dual function of picking up donations and raising awareness.
“We’re told that we’re one of the best-kept secrets in Fort Wayne,” Jordan said. “But I don’t want to be a secret.”
So the organization became an investor in Greater Fort Wayne Inc. in June of 2011.
“GFW [Inc.] has helped because we’ve done some of the networking opportunities and luncheons — people start knowing who you are and you get the opportunity to share your mission. And that’s how people learn,” Jordan said.
Plus, she said, GFW Inc. offers unique opportunities, like this blog series spotlighting investors. “This is a cool opportunity for us to be able to spotlight what we do and how we impact lives in our community.”
Jordan also sees value in the opportunity to partner with the business community.
“We’re self-funded,” she explained. We don’t take any government monies, nor are we a United Way agency.” Mustard Seed hosts two fundraisers a year, and the business community’s support in the form of items for the silent and live auctions is vital.
“Everyone has to work together for the success of the community,” she added. “And GFW [Inc.] makes that happen — they’re the catalyst.”