By Dianne Anderson
Vicki Lobo is up to her ears in furniture with donations that keep pouring in.
It’s far more than she imagined she would receive, and that’s a good thing. Her phone has been ringing off the hook with an abundance of furniture, but now the big question is where to put it.
Next, her goal is to find someone willing to donate a facility.
“We are talking to property managers to see if we can get someone to donate space,” said Lobo, founder and CEO of Knock Knock Angels. “I’m literally turning down furniture now.”
Lots of accolades have come around the nonprofit that she started several years ago. Mostly, it’s operated out of pocket along with small grants, and through the generosity of volunteers.
The nonprofit organization handles two to three cases a month. They grant final wishes for the terminally ill, furnish and decorate homes for families, single parents, veterans and the elderly, and victims of violent crimes and abuse.
It’s an idea that has been a long time coming. Ever since she a little girl, she wanted to do what she does now, but a life-threatening bout with thyroid cancer jump-started her ambition.
“Something makes you just jump into it to say today’s the day that I’m going to pursue what’s inside of me,” she said. “For me, it was cancer.”
In a way, her cancer was an accidental discovery. She had already lost close friends to cancer, including one who had refused to see a doctor, and passed away at only 47 years old.
Lobo wanted to get the word out about just how easy it is to get cancer screenings. In the process, her doctor discovered a lump on her neck. The thyroid cancer was removed, and she said there was a huge outpouring of support and cards from friends and strangers.
“I never knew these people, and realized the power of social media just from an ordinary individual like me,” she said.
After surgery, she pulled her friends together, and pooled their resources to help a 71-year old partially blind woman at Christmas. They redecorated her home, brought in some furniture, and introduced the woman to the world via social media.
“People want to help. People want to give. They have stuff they don’t use in their house, and this has grown and grown,” said Lobo, a real estate agent.
Lobo also sits on the city of Rialto Homeless Task Force, and she commended Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson for including the nonprofit as a collaborative partner on the city’s grant.
Not long ago, Lobo helped another homeless 61 year old woman, who had been sleeping in her car. She was able to get subsidized housing, and together, partner with several agencies and Assemblymember Eloise Reyes.
“Our goal is to make an apartment a home for people that have nothing. They have a bag, they’re leaving apartments and shelters, they’re living under a bridge. Moms are living in their cars with their babies,” she said.
With all furniture, she also must be careful because with storage units where pests and bugs can travel. She learned that hard lesson the hard way. One couch in storage was infested with crickets.
“We went into a brand new apartment for a veteran. I put the sofa in there. I cried for two days,” she said. “We can’t operate in storage, in storage because you don’t know what’s in the unit next to you.”
Lobo has done whole house makeovers, fixing up furniture, bedding, the things that many can not afford. By the time she’s done, it looks staged like a model home.
Community volunteers come from all over to help.
“For years, it was just a group of girls, volunteers coming out regularly. Women come from everywhere, I have a designer that comes from Palm Springs. They collect things, they give their own time.”
The storefront facility that she hopes to secure would be able to accept donations that can be delivered locally to Fontana and Rialto. She also wants to be in a position to receive big box donations that may be slightly damaged, but are still quality products.
Often, she said big stores toss out their damaged goods.
“It could have a broken leg and they just write it off, but my people can fix it,” she said.
To donate or to get help, see http://knockknockangels.org.
This article originally appeared in The Precinct Reporter News Group.