By: Jackie Brett and Megan Way Photos by: Jackie Brett and Lawrence Oravetz
This year, Walker Furniture will again provide 35 families in need with a houseful of brand-new furniture in time for the holidays in their 25th ‘Home for the Holidays’ program. This event goes back to 1994 when they began with deliveries to 12 families. Helping Hands of Vegas Valley screened the more than 1,200 nomination letters, and after narrowing the list down 35 families were chosen by the Executive Committee to receive an entire houseful of new furniture.
Walker Furniture hosted a special luncheon to announce this year’s recipients for this annual event. More than 250 attended the luncheon including many community leaders, local media, holiday entertainment provided by “Mr. Las Vegas” – Wayne Newton, Centennial High School Choir, and the Opportunity Village Choir “The Village Blend.” A heartwarming video from last year’s Home for the Holidays deliveries was presented.
Walker Furniture invited the media to come to the first deliveries on Friday, Dec. 14th to 17th to come to witness the true meaning of giving during the holiday season.
The first delivery was for Jason Johnson. The letter was written by a family member who wrote about Jason Johnson, a single father with six kids, since the wife/mother left the family last January and doesn’t communicate. Children are: girls – 22 months, four and five; boys – twin 3-year-olds and oldest nine. These children were incredibly well behaved. Johnson had been a stay-at-home father because childcare was so expensive. He got a job; however, with stores closing he’s now losing his warehouse position. Three years ago, the family lived in a Siegel Suites, which had a bed bug infestation. When they moved, the bugs were in their furniture, which had to be destroyed. Family only has some clothes, a TV and dishes. The children have no toys, beds, etc.
Next is Joseph Perry. He is 33 years old. He went blind shortly after his wife passed away in their home with their 3-year-old child. Perry takes care of his son Maurice now 7-years-old; but he can never work again. Perry living only on Survivor Benefits struggles to provide enough food, proper furniture, clothes, etc., and barely has money for transportation to his doctor appointments, which are required at least three times a week. You can see there is no furniture at Perry’s place as he’s visited by Larry Alterwitz, CEO of Walker Furniture.
Fire Station 14 adopted this next area family nominated by the Clark County School District. Quy Kim-tram, a mother and four children – 8,10, 14 and 19 – have no furniture, are sleeping on blankets stacked in the corner, and eat on a table top sitting on the floor. The Fire Station brought a firetruck with items being donated, including gifts for the kids. The Fire Dept. will be paying two months rent and a good neighborhood semaritan will be purchasing needed items like linens, etc.
This nomination letter with a heartbreaking story came from Alyson McCarthy, CEO for Ronald McDonald House Las Vegas. Two years ago, 18-year-old Erik Hernandez was walking home with friends after a concert and hit “twice” by a car and left to die. His father, mother and two younger brothers lived in Ronald McDonald House to remain by Erik’s bedside. During this time, the father Miguel lost his job and the family home. As Erik is slowly improving, Miguel is looking for a job and the family is moving into an apartment where the mom can be a full-time caretaker. Ronald McDonald House is paying the security deposit and along with other good samaritans assisting with other needs.Walker Furnitiure will step in and happily fill the house with furniture, while Star Nursary will bring in a live tree and monitary donation, and Las Vegas Rescue Mission will round out Christmas cheer with toys and food.
Walker Furniture’s partners for this program are Helping Hands of Vegas Valley; Las Vegas Rescue Mission; Star Nursery; Beasley Broadcasting along with local media outlets, vendors and the Executive Committee make this program a success.