Lending a helping hand is an endeavor that often starts close to home. This year, Worcester Medi Tresse and Ladybugz Interactive teamed up to help Fresh Start Furniture Bank a non-profit in Worcester County that helps furnish homes for those coming out of homelessness.
Last winter, a family friend of Michael DiStefano (Medi Tresse Worcester) lost their house and all of their possessions in a house fire. Wanting to help but not knowing how to go about it can be challenging. It took a bit of personal perspective and the right partnerships to come up with a solution.
“While it is easy to imagine what a difficult situation that would be, seeing firsthand what it was like for them to lose everything, including all their furniture and clothing for three young kids, was truly heartbreaking,” says DiStefano.
Enter: Lysa Miller, CEO, and founder of Ladybugz Interactive, recently created a campaign with her clients to help raise money for Fresh Start Furniture Bank. A charity in Hudson, MA, Fresh Start collects donated furniture and home goods from the public. It then distributes them, for free, to people in need who a non-profit agency has vetted.
“When Lysa mentioned she was helping to raise funds for Fresh Start Furniture Bank and told me about the organization, I knew I wanted to get involved,” points out DiStefano.
Lysa herself became personally involved with Fresh Start after meeting the director at a women’s event five years ago. Since then, Lysa – who was subsequently voted onto their board of directors -- manages their social media and online presence along with fundraising efforts in the community.
Fresh Start only has one employee, and is run mainly by volunteers who regularly put in more than 16,000 hours of service per year. In fact, those volunteers have helped 3,000 families (and counting!) turn empty spaces into homes, keeping more than 130,000 items out of the waste stream.
Once Lysa got to know the team at Fresh Start and their selfless mission, she knew she wanted to take things a step further by giving back in Worcester County. That’s when she decided to create a campaign challenging her Ladybugz clients to match her donation to Fresh Start, a homegrown initiative sprouting right in her backyard. Michael at Medi Tresse was one of the first of her clients to step up and help.
“Medi Tresse is committed to the community and giving back,” says Lysa. “Michael also wants to help make an impact in the communities in which he does business. One of those is Worcester County. When your business is successful, you want to give back and help people in need. Michael and his team at Medi Tresse were excited about that.”
More than $2500 was raised as an agency, and Lysa has no plans to stop now.
She started volunteering after meeting the director. Once she started to meet the clients and hear their stories, the experience changed her life.
“Realizing how lucky I am with the life I have, giving back to those people and specifically knowing the costs of the organization and where they spend money, was another reason to give to the cause,” she says.
In an organization where no money is wasted, much of the money Fresh Start raises comes from donations for clients. The rest comes from state grant money. All money from their operations is poured right back into the specific needs they have. Fresh Start Furniture Bank has many volunteer opportunities to take part in, from furniture repair and sorting to fundraising and public relations.
For Lysa, the Fresh Start campaign was born of an idea to share success and giving back in Worcester. She knew she was blessed to be successful in 2022, as were many of her clients. Quite simply, she says, “I wanted to present them with an opportunity to give back.” And that’s exactly what she did.
Medi Tresse heard the call loud and clear, and decided to jump in and raise awareness by giving back in Worcester County. Medi Tresse, top local experts in female hair loss, had been a client of Ladybugz for six months when he heard about the charge Lysa Miller was leading in the community.
“When Lysa is passionate about something, it definitely shows, and it was clear that she was passionate about Fresh Start,” says Michael. “So when she reached out, I knew I needed to look into the organization a bit more.”
Medi Tresse is no stranger to giving. “At our practice, we have a number of young cancer patients that we offer pro bono services to,” he continues. “For many patients, they tell us that while they are grateful to have survived their cancer diagnosis, the hair loss is a reminder of everything they went through. While hair loss post chemo or radiation can be devastating for anyone, it is especially true for children.”
This philanthropic mission shows the level of care Michael and his team at Medi Tresse have, not just for their own patients in need, but for those in the community who could use a little love and compassion after tragedy.
If you or someone you know needs help with donations of furniture or household goods, you can start by getting a referral. Call Fresh Start Furniture Bank to learn more. Fresh Start works with several local agencies in Worcester, from Channing House to Youville House.