After fire, local home furnishings store assists The Center for Change
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
This past summer, licensed professional counselor Winden Rowe officially opened The Center for Change at Kennett Square, as its director.
The concept, one she had imagined for several years, was now located at the Willowdale Town Center: a collaboration of counselors and adjunct treatment professionals who support individuals, couples and families in their recovery from the effects of stress and trauma.
On Jan. 3, however, Rowe's dream, now imagined, was suddenly on hold. An early-morning fire ripped through Sovana Bistro and Nicholas Anthony Day Spa – located adjacent to the Center for Change – causing considerable damage to both businesses. While the severity of the fire was not as glaring at The Center, the lingering smoke and residue damaged furnishings and made it impossible to conduct business.
After meeting with the property owner at the historic cottage in the Willowdale Town Center, Rowe was able to establish a temporary location for The Center less than a week after the fire. There was only one component of the business that was missing before becoming fully operational: furniture.
“Because there was such a quick change process to undergo, I put a post on social media asking if anyone had any furniture they could provide us,” Rowe said. “My primary concerns were obviously being able to continue providing quality patient care, and being able to provide professional work spaces for my colleagues.”
Deanna Johnson, the owner of Marche – a home furnishings store on State Street in Kennett Square – saw Rowe's social media post that detailed the damage done at The Center for Change in the aftermath of the fire. Johnson then contacted Sheila Sanford, a community herbalist with White Moth Wisdom, to assist her in finding furnishings for The Center’s temporary location.
“In true Winden form, she stepped up to the plate, and as a trauma professional, she immediately went forward to find solutions,” Johnson said. “I told Sheila that the best way to help this community is to help Winden and her team, because they are responsible for helping so many people in their personal lives and businesses and families.”
Sanford and Johnson spent two days gathering furnishings from customers and consignment shops from Chester County to the Main Line, and with the help of others – which also included a donated couch from Yoga Secrets in Kennett Square – the temporary offices of The Center for Change were back in business.
Johnson knows firsthand about how a setback can shut down a business. In 2019, Marche was the victim of two floods – one on March 5 that contributed to the loss of tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise – and the second on Aug. 5 that forced the store to close until it was reopened last November.
“When circumstances like that arise, there is quiet moment where the activity silences; it takes a minute to connect again,” Rowe said. “I learned that Deanna could relate very much to what it feels like to face unanticipated upheaval, and knows how jarring it is; how isolating and overwhelming it can be. In those moments, no matter how put together you are, you lose a foothold on your internal resources. I think that what Deanna really tapped into was a result of the problems she herself has had at her business.
“The beauty of her generosity is that I didn't need to go into any backstory with her. She's a woman. She's a business owner. She gets it.”
“I am a part of this community, and I feel that when people are struggling, you should help, if you can,” Johnson said. “Only by helping others rise above these struggles and trials can we be stronger together. I just thought it was something I had to do.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email email@example.com.