Furniture Factory at Rescue Mission Builds and Repairs Just About Anything

POSTED: Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 2:20pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 11:31am

EL PASO- For dozens of people, the Rescue Mission of El Paso is a place for them to find food and shelter.
And some of those who live there also have the chance to earn a living by building furniture.

You name it. The El Paso Rescue Mission's Furniture Factory's got it. The 20,000 sq. ft. facility employs people who've gone through drug and alcohol rehab programs at the rescue mission.

"A lot of them have backgrounds, a lot of them have federal, they're on probation, be it state or federal. It's harder for them to find work," says Juanita Ortega of the Rescue Mission.

Mark Kaiser, who had been homeless for 10 years, is one of the 20 workers who build about 250 pieces of furniture every month.  "I’ve made dressers, beds, china cabinets, humidors for a cigar store," said Kaiser.

"It’s been a great experience and every day, it gets better," said Kaiser.

Furniture prices range from $125 dollars for a framed mirror to $2,100 for a custom-made wall-to-wall entertainment center. Part of the money helps the Rescue Mission, a not-for-profit organization, pay for necessities at its shelter and another part goes to the workers.

"I get a decent little wage. With what I’m making, I’m happy," said Kaiser.

The workers not only make furniture from scratch but they say they can also repair just about anything. Half a dozen wobbly chairs were brought in for a second go-around. 

Another service the Furniture Factory offers is they custom-build just about anything for their customers.

"The workers here would do their best to satisfy their want, as opposed to going to a furniture store here and just getting whatever they have," said Ortega.

The Furniture Factory's pieces have been shipped all over the country mainly to furnish other Rescue Missions but they've also had customers place orders from as far away as Alaska, Brazil and Jamaica. And Keiser says he finally has something in life he can be proud of: earning a living and helping to support the Rescue Mission at the same time.

"I finally found a purpose in my life. My purpose is to enjoy it, to give it to god and to help another person," said Kaiser.

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