Donated Items Help Turn Spaces into Homes for Local Families

By Madeleine Kates

There is no better way to begin the task of spring cleaning than by donating gently used or new home items to UPward Design for Life (UDFL). Founded by interior design consultant Dionne Williamson, UDFL reinvents the concept of starting over by creating safe, clean, and beautifully furnished spaces for Western New York families in need. Beginning with UDFL’s first client in March 2018, the organization has set a goal of furnishing 100 homes each year.

UDFL’s referrals come from local partner agencies, such as Child & Family Services, Gateway Longview, BestSelf Behavioral Health, and others. Individuals who receive home transformations include domestic violence survivors with young children, veterans, refugees, individuals with disabilities, and young adults aging out of the foster care system.

Williamson says that UDFL is restoring hope to these individuals by transforming empty living spaces into homes. She explains, “Each space is unique, and so is each family, inspiring UDFL and its volunteers to furnish each home in a way that respects and honors both the space and the family. Additionally, since each project is completed within two to three hours, there is little interference in our clients’ daily lives.”

Each furniture installation process begins with placing donated furniture and décor to create magazine-ready spaces, without the need for home renovation. Donated items must be in good condition, clean, and pre-approved. Scheduled donation drop-offs are by appointment only in the Life Storage parking lot where UDFL houses its donations. Appointments are also available for pick-up of larger items.

There is currently a three- to six-month waiting list for UDFL’s services, which the organization hopes to shorten. The best way to help them to accomplish that is by making a financial donation, volunteering, donating furnishings, and spreading the word to help raise community awareness. In addition to the need for a larger storage space, items most requested include beds, pillows and other bedding, pots and pans, gently used furniture, and household items such as extension cords, light bulbs, and toiletries. A complete list of items needed is available at the “Take Action” section UDFL’s website at

Williamson also encourages anyone who has a philanthropic goal and a love for their community to empower themselves to make a difference, saying, “You never know where life may take you, or the positive impact you can have on those around you.” The organization also welcomes collaborations with anyone or any organization whose message and services align with their mission and core values.

For more information visit, Contact UPward Design for Life at 716-698-7966, at, or Reach them by mail at P.O. Box 327, Buffalo, NY 14215. To see some amazing client space transformations, check out upwarddesignforlife on Facebook and Instagram.

Madeleine Kates is a senior at Niagara University studying Life Sciences, Psychology, and Environmental Science.