Tysons Interfaith is pleased to present a series of blog posts highlighting local non-profit organizations who are doing so much to help our neighbors. Please consider helping these groups with your time and resources. For a list of nonprofit organizations working in the Tysons area please visit: tysonsinterfaith.org/resources/
Gracing Spaces (former ministry of Lord of Life Lutheran Church), is now an independent local charity with a 501(c)(3) status.
When you grow up attending a Lutheran church, you often hear the phrase, “God’s work. Our hands.” Born into our identity as Lutherans is a desire to serve our neighbors out of love and obedience to the Lord. Gracing Spaces, a local volunteer organization that furnishes homes for families in transition, is one way that many of us feel called to serve.
Twenty years ago, a newly engaged Amanda Baumgart encouraged her mom to nix the traditional bridal shower and opt instead to renovate a room at a local halfway house. The attendees had such fun that they went back to give the entire house a makeover, deciding that this house could be the first of many. And it was—it was the first of thousands. A growing group of volunteers began to “grace spaces” in the northern Virginia community—coordinating with social workers to identify needs in the community and work to meet them.
Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Clifton, Virginia, loaned Gracing Spaces their unfinished basement which became “the depot.” Like a department store, the depot housed kitchen goods, linens, children’s clothes, tables, chairs, sofas, bookshelves, baby products, toys, beds, cleaning supplies—really anything that people were willing to donate that could “grace the space” of someone in need. A workshop was set up, so furniture was repaired instead of going to the landfill. Donors, often in times of grief and transition, walked away from the depot a little lighter, knowing the loved objects of their lives would find a good second home. For fourteen years, volunteers gathered every week to fill “orders”, working to coordinate furniture and add decorative touches to make sure spaces became homes. Vehicles that came into the parking lot empty went away full. On weekends (makeover days), empty spaces became homes.
In 2022, Lord of Life no longer felt that they could singly support Gracing Spaces since the ministry had grown profoundly over twenty years, so we had a decision to make—should we close up shop or evolve? Looking at the need in the community and knowing we could help, there really was no choice. We still had work to do—God still wanted our hands busy serving our neighbors.
A year later, we look a bit different. We have many “depots”—basements, garages, public storage units. We are independent, with a 501(c)(3) status and a board of directors. We have committees to help with fundraising and marketing. One thing is unchanged: our mission to give a “hand up” to the most vulnerable in our community by making their new spaces into homes.
Our biggest need is for a new “depot”, a donated or affordable warehouse where we can work and grow the ministry. After all, furniture takes up space! We are fundraising seed money to rent a property, so financial contributions and new partners in ministry (https://www.gracingspaces.com/donate-money) are a wonderful blessing to our organization as well.
For twenty years, we have found great joy in moving goods from where they are no longer needed into places where they are. We pray for another twenty years, knowing our community is stronger when we care for one another.
Love and serve without distinction all earth’s people, first and least,
Know within each act of kindness, hope and wholeness are increased.
“See my hands and feet,” said Jesus, love arisen from the grave.
“Be my hands and feet,” said Jesus, “live as ones I died to save.”
–“See My Hands and Feet” by Mary Louise Bringle
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.