WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Growing up, sisters Jan Barbee and Joanna Britt learned the value of giving old things a new purpose.
“It was absolutely drilled into us. We say our mother invented the rubber band ball,” Britt said.
“She recycled before it was cool.”
For the last few years, Barbee and Britt have been taking those same life lessons from childhood to make houses feel like homes.
In 2015, they co-founded greeNest – a non-profit that accepts donations for people transitioning into sustainable housing.
Most of the donations come from individuals and are quality household items including furniture, small appliances, and cookware.
Once a person is referred through a partner agency, he or she can shop at greeNest.
Barbee and Britt say it’s important that people find items they will enjoy.
“Choice is one of our big focuses. We want them to pick things they love. We make them sit down on the furniture and try it out. We don't want them to take anything that's not comfortable,” Britt said.
The Winston-Salem Foundation has helped greeNest reach some operational goals.
“They've helped us several different times. For the first two years we were open, we were completely volunteer run. We had no paid employees and we realized we needed a warehouse manager and so they helped us fund our first employee, which was a part-time warehouse manager, then they helped us with our infrastructure,” Barbee said.
Most recently, the Winston-Salem Foundation provided a grant for a full-time executive director to move greeNest forward as it grows.
Since opening, greeNest has served more than 500 families and close to 1200 individuals.