They decided to help one another by helping others.
When Kerren Munson and Micki Huyette met at a church retreat, both Grove City residents were going through a rough patch in their lives.
The result of that meeting back in 2004 was not misery shared but misery spared.
Munson, who had already embarked on a sort of one-woman crusade to provide furniture to the less fortunate by helping to collect items for a family who lost everything in fires, came to realize that a two-woman campaign could comprise a ministry. The result is the CNDL4JC Furniture Ministry, which is based in Grove City but has helped needy families throughout Columbus and as far away as Delaware, Lancaster, Circleville and even Dayton.
Munson said that she had already discovered the joy to be found in helping others by organizing a furniture drive for a single mother of two whose home was destroyed in a fire.
She found that her own sorrows lessened considerably by pitching in to get the woman and her children back off their feet by providing them something to sit down on.
"Look at how good this makes me feel," Munson recalled thinking to herself. "It was just a blessing, all directions."
That experience, according to Munson, made her realize that the couches and dressers and beds most people take for granted can be precious items to families worried about food and shelter.
"I think most people can find clothes and food anywhere," she said. "Furniture is not easy to find."
"You have to make a house a home and furniture helps with that," Huyette said. "Furniture is a necessity for families."
For about a year after assisting that first family, Munson said that she began to form what would become the furniture ministry on her own, while working four jobs and taking care of her own three children.
Then she met Huyette at the retreat. As the conversation turned to Munson's fledgling ministry, Huyette indicated she had some clothing to donate that had belonged to a deceased friend. It turned out to be such a major amount of clothing, Munson recalled, that she sought and got Huyette's help with the sorting.
A friendship was forged that led to a partnership.
"I have a compassion for humankind," Huyette said. "I believe we're all here to help one another."
The CNDL4JC Furniture Ministry achieved nonprofit status in 2006, according to Munson.
"We do this because we feel this is what we're supposed to do," Munson said.
"I feel like I'm doing God's work," Huyette said. "I just feel that is my duty."
The families in need of furniture are referred to the ministry by various nonprofit agencies and organizations in central Ohio.
"They didn't know it was out there," Huyette said. "They will be so humbled. They'll cry and say, 'I can't believe you're doing this for us.'
"We want to give them hope. We want to light that flame that there is hope for the next day. We've all been down and out."
So far in 2008, according to Munson, CNDL4JC has taken on 312 families, 205 of whom have had their furniture needs met. Recipients are encouraged, once they've gotten back on their feet, to assist with others, according to Huyette.
The ministry accepts donations of used furniture and furnishings, as well as holding furniture drives several times at year in the parking lot of Grove City High School. The vast majority of donated items are in good enough shape to be used, Munson said, including couches that have been a little scratched up by cats.
"We can look past that because we're just trying to serve people who have no couches," she added.
CNDL4JC stores items in a three-car garage provided at no charge by an East Side church. Just recently, to assist with pickups and deliveries, Munson said that a supporter purchased a truck from the former Sofa Express and donated it to CNDL4JC.
"We're blessed," Munson said.
"It gives us a purpose and keeps our minds off our own problems, that we can help other families and feel good about that and help them feel good about themselves," Huyette said.
In addition to donations of gently used furniture and other household items, volunteer assistance is always welcome, according to Munson.
For additional information, visit the ministry's Web site at www.cndl4jc.com.