Back in September, Ray Piontek, Executive Director of Bay Area Furniture Bank (BAFB), received the Business of the Year Award at the Sunnyvale Community Awards. Through his organization, Piontek has so far provided furniture to over 650 families in need of assistance.
“We have come a long way since becoming a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in February of 2016,” Piontek said. “The Fall of 2016 was when we began our operation. We are now serving over 40 families a month.
“Since our organization started, over 1,100 adults and 950 plus children have benefited from our furniture,” he continued. “We work with about 95 plus social service agencies, organizations and religious groups in Santa Clara County. With our growth comes a need for additional support and service so we are currently seeking funds for capacity building.”
In 2016, Piontek’s neighbor in Los Altos put a sofa in front of her house to give away. Piontek picked up the sofa. Then he started picking up other pieces of unwanted furniture left outside of homes.
With support from Joe Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor from District 5, and Denise Boland, former Director of Employment and Benefit Services for Santa Clara County, Piontek sought to redirect gently-used furniture to those in need.
Piontek revealed how he acquired one of his first major collections of furniture for BAFB.
“In August 2016, the Fairmont Hotel in Downtown San Jose commenced a major renovation — 11 floors consisting of 264 rooms and 33 suites of furniture,” he said. “I went and talked to the Facilities Engineer at the Fairmont Hotel and asked him what the plans were for the disposal of the old furniture. He said it was not completely determined but possibly, it would be going to landfill. I asked if I could have the furniture.”
Moving on from using his garage for storage, Piontek rented storage units on Scott Boulevard. in Santa Clara and later, at Foothill Community College in Los Altos Hills. Hengehold Trucks lent Piontek trucks for transporting furniture.
“Google heard of our mission and need for additional space, and directed their property management firm to see what they could locate to assist with our storage space needs,” Piontek said. “They located a vacant building in Sunnyvale that we could use. We are now fortunate to be operating out of a 40,000 square feet building. Hengehold Trucks continues to support us.”
Currently, BAFB is interested in volume donations of furniture, similar in quantity to what the organization received from Fairmont Hotel.
Piontek was a Naval Aviator with over 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Navy Captain. He has also worked in a number of Sales Executive positions in the corporate arena. Piontek’s work for BAFB started with his desire for a retirement project.
“I was looking for a purpose in retirement, and saw this as an opportunity to give back to the community and assist many who are often overlooked by providing quality furniture,” Piontek said.
For more information about BAFB, including details on how to donate money, or to give or receive furniture, visit bayareafurniturebank.org.