Shop for a Cause
Dwell with Dignity founder Lisa Robison admits an Oprah Winfrey book inspired her to change her life plan. The big-hearted interior designer had taken 10 years off work to be with her kids, and she was ready to do something creative again.
“[In the book] Oprah said, find what you’re passionate about and what makes your heart beat fast — that’s the secret to happiness,” Robison says. “The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the people who benefit the most from good design have the least access to it.”
Robison believes an environment can have a huge impact on your daily life. It sets your expectations and affects your dreams. That’s why Dwell with Dignity is so focused on making homes for families — more often, single mothers.
Robison believes an environment can have a huge impact on your daily life. It sets your expectations and affects your dreams.
Robison knew that in order to help people invested in their own self-sufficiency, she needed to team up with agencies. So she went to the Interfaith Housing Coalition and began her first housing project. When her friend Kim Turner came on board as vice president and director, they began reaching out to the design community.
“I credit Kim for the quick growth, because she’s the one who reached out to all the contacts,” Robison says. “We went to showrooms and met with designers. Everyone embraced and supported the idea.”
Today Dwell with Dignity designs an apartment every four weeks, and last month the team worked on their first house. The nonprofit works with empty homes and fills them with furniture and appliances donated by local designers, showrooms, and businesses like the Container Store and Peacock Alley.
If donations are slightly damaged, volunteers will fix them — whether it’s a new paint job or reupholstering. “We would never put anything in a home that we wouldn’t put in our own,” Robison says.
“We always purchase our cribs, Sleep Experts donates mattresses and we buy baby bedding. We spend lots of money at Target to stock their closet with cleaning supplies.”
Dwell with Dignity even prepares the first night’s meal for the family that moves in. There’s not much interaction between the residents and the volunteers, because moving into a home is a very personal and serious experience for someone who might have been homeless a few weeks before.
Although Robison rarely sees the expression on the residents’ faces, there’s no doubt she’s made a huge impact by enabling the less fortunate to “dwell with dignity” and inspiring others to support the cause.
Speaking of support, here’s how you can help. Dwell with Dignity has a pop-up shop concept called Thrift Studio, which Robison says came about organically. An office space was donated in 2011 to house the temporary shop.
Thrift Studio is filled with room vignettes comprising “slightly damaged or slightly too handcrafted” furniture and decor from designers and donors such as Horchow, Studio Ten 25, IBB Design Fine Furnishings, DJ Lucy Wrubel for Peacock Alley, Square Foot Studio and more. All proceeds from the 30-day shop support Dwell With Dignity.
The fourth biannual Dwell with Dignity Thrift Studio is open through May 18 at 1100 Slocum St., Ste. 590. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-5:30 pm. The nonprofit has also partnered with One Kings Lane for a 72-hour Tastemaker Tag Sale, and all of those proceeds benefit Dwell with Dignity.