As ONA comes to a close, the furniture you may be lounging on this weekend could be donated to a family or person in need.
It started three years ago when ONA Midway Producer Hanaa Rifaey noticed that companies featured on the Midway were selling and throwing away their new furniture.
“I realized that we could be doing a greater service to the communities that we go to,” Rifaey said.
In 2017, when ONA was hosted in Washington D.C., Rifaey’s hometown, she said she began scouting local charities in need of furniture.
That year, ONA donated goods to a nonprofit called “A Wider Circle,” that donates to families and individuals transitioning out of homelessness.
Now these annual donations are embedded in the thread of each conference. Companies will donate furniture, TVs, computer and decor, according to Rifaey.
“She (Rifaey) had this amazing idea of ‘let’s not just be wasteful,’” said ONA CEO Irving Washington.
This year’s donation goes to ….
This year, ONA will donate to the local shelter Ozanam Inn. Rifaey said that companies like Microsoft, ProPublica and WordPress are set to donate their goods Saturday evening, once the Midway comes to a close.
“We donate because frankly, someone else can use it more than we can,” Microsoft Senior Manager Vera Chan said. “It’s really great that there is a program. I’m really gratified that ONA sets that up.”
Microsoft will be donating chairs, plants and decorations after the conference.
“When our clients are placed into housing, they do not have anything of comfort in their homes,” Ozanam Inn Director of Programs Gail Martin said in an email to Rifaey.
Working with local communities
“TVs and stands are greatly needed in providing a more comforting atmosphere for our clients…The chairs and tables will bring happiness to the homeless families in our community.”
In addition to donating goods, ONA prides itself on working with local communities, according to Washington.
Each year the organization also contracts local vendors to plan major conference events and tap local journalists to be on panels and participate in programming.
“We believe a lot in making sure as we’re going to different cities that there’s a strong local presence both internally and externally,” Washington said.