(Photo: 'Repurposed Soul/Tumblr)
For the past year, Steve and Andrea Kohlman of Lexington, Ky., have been creating and selling unique pieces of repurposed furniture, and donating their entire proceeds to the people of Haiti through Waves of Mercy, a mission organization dedicated to improving the lives of Haitians through education, nutrition, and Christianity.
The Kohlmans recently told The Christian Post that they chose to name their refurbishing project Repurposed Soul, primarily because they feel what they do with furniture is similar to what God does with His followers.
"What we do with furniture is the same thing Christ has done for my wife and me. He has refurbished our lives, and given us a new direction in life," Steve Kohlman told CP.
Repurposed furniture includes taking a vintage piece of furniture and redesigning it to have a new purpose, whether it be a worn-down kitchen chair revamped into a living room sitting chair, or a faded dresser being recreated into a plant-holder.
The furniture the Kohlmans choose to repurpose is found at a variety of places, including estate sales, Craigslist, or thrift shops.
The Kohlmans hatched their plan to begin Repurposed Soul in 2009, after Andrea returned from her first trip to Haiti.
"My trip to Haiti tore me up inside. When I left I thought, 'I have to get back down here as soon as possible,'" Andrea told CP.
"Going to Haiti made me realize, 'I need to do something.' It's so close to the U.S., yet there are babies there that go days without eating, or drinking," Andrea continued.
Andrea went on to say that she and her husband wanted to come up with a way to help Haitians from the U.S., and thus Repurposed Soul was born.
"I thought: 'I can't just come back here and do nothing, I can't just come back her and be the same,'" Andrea reflected.
"That's where this project started. Building a relationship with the people in Haiti and saying 'I want to do more to help,'" she added.
Beginning in January 2012, Repurposed Soul has managed to give Waves of Mercy $7,500 to contribute to the communities located in the Twa Rivye area of Port-de-Paix, Haiti.
Waves of Mercy was founded five years ago by missionaries Larry and Diana Owen, who have been doing ministry work in Haiti for the past 30 years through their Northwest Haiti Christian Mission.
The Owens chose to extend their ministry work by founding Waves of Mercy, which works to provide a church, free schooling, housing for street boys, and a nutrition program for children, among other beneficial services to the community.
According to Andrea, who recently graduated from the University of Kentucky's nursing program, one of the main focuses of both the Waves of Mercy mission and Repurposed Soul is providing medical assistance to Haitians, especially children suffering from a variety of maladies, including ear infections, stomach viruses, and third degree burns.
"A lot of the money generated through the furniture goes to treating people with medical needs," Andrea told CP.
Medical services on behalf of Waves of Mercy and Repurposed Soul includes both setting up clinics in local towns, as well as walking through the jungle to provide medical aid to those living in more rural areas.
Another important aspect of providing medical treatment, according to Andrea, is educating both mothers and children on the proper uses for antibiotics, as opposed to the dangerous use of home remedies that is common in the country.
Ultimately, the Kohlmans told CP that the whole basis of their efforts is grounded in God's love.
"The whole basis of why we do what we do is that Jesus loves us, so we love others. We just want to try and show the love of Jesus to anybody and everybody that we can, and hopefully a seed is planted, and it grows, and we'll get to spend time in heaven with those people. That's why we do it," the couple said.