Furnishing Hope
Reader's Digest US|October 2021
For ex-foster children to have a seat at the table, first they need a seat and a table
Rebecca Meiser

HANNAH LESZYESKI WAS weeks away from having a baby, and the only furniture she had in her Cleveland, Ohio, apartment was a crib and an air mattress with a hole in it. “I had to keep waking up in the night and fill it,” she says.

One year before, at age 18, she had aged out of foster care, having been in the system since she was four when her single mother was no longer able to care for her. Leszyeski was now enrolled in college hoping to become a detective. She received a stipend from a state program that helps former foster care kids attending college. Still, niceties such as furniture just weren’t in her budget.

Then she learned about Chair-ity, a nonprofit formed by 23-year-old Maria Paparella. The Cleveland-based organization provides furniture and household goods to young adults who have left foster care. When Leszyeski reached out to Chair-ity, Paparella asked what she needed. “Everything,” she replied. She left it to Paparella to figure out what “everything” was.

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