Since we've opened our doors over 10 years ago, we have had the mission to be involved in our local community. What does "local" even mean? To us, it means rolling up your sleeves to help those in need. This is the second year Austin's Couch Potatoes has helped all the Statesman's Season for Caring families and the third time they have contributed to the program, and we look forward to being of service for many years into the future.
The Statesman highlights the needs in our community by featuring families nominated by local nonprofit organizations. They focus on fundraising, having raised more than $15.2 million for local nonprofit organizations since it began in 1999. The money raised in the Season of Caring program is used for gift cards, paying utilities, providing necessary medical and dental care, and funding higher education and technical training to help families become more self-sufficient. This year we met the López Guzman family, and offered our assistance.
Samantha spreads out on the new couch donated by the Furniture Mall of Texas. Image by Nell Carroll/American Statesman
Arelis López Guzman, moved to Austin five years ago from Guatemala. In her home country, her oldest daughter, Marlen was assaulted. López Guzman received no support from authorities and her family, so she made the difficult decision to pack up and leave to a foreign country, the United States.
In Austin, López Guzman had a job making tortillas at a restaurant, and met her now-husband Jose Menchu Orozco. They had a daughter Samantha, who is now four, and have another child on the way. The future was coming together, and the opportunities seemed limitless. In 2020, however, as López Guzman and her daughters were leaving church, a woman attacked them on the busride home. To a family trying to make their way in an unfamiliar place, it took a physical, emotional and mental toll. Samantha also began having seizures (unrelated to the incident), but López Guzman had to quit her job to take care of her daughter. The medical bills from the bus attack, and Samantha's seizures added up and things started to look hopeless.
Marco Antonio Fernandez and Chris Gutierrez use their combined strength to bring in a shelving unit to the López Guzman apartment. Image by Nell Carroll/ American Statesman
Austin's Couch Potatoes was able to donate two dressers, a sofa, a coffee table, a large bookcase, an entertainment console, and an expandable kitchen table with five chairs, perfect for their growing family. For a family whose furniture was mostly used pieces, having new furniture was a welcome sight. We know the importance of having nice home that makes you feel comfortable and safe.
Arelis López Guzman, admires her new table from the Furniture Mall of Texas. Image by Nell Carroll/American Statesman
The López Guzman family was not the only family we helped. We also donated furniture to the Gaston-Ellis family, the Castillo family and Cheryl Selby. Our company is also making new furniture available to the other Season for Caring families at wholesale prices. Nonprofit organizations can now use Season of Caring money to help their families, without relying on second-hand furniture or paying exorbitant fees.
Brian Morgan, one of the co-owners of Austin's Couch Potatoes, told the Statesman, “We are so honored to serve alongside you. We can’t think of a better way to show that we love our neighbors than supporting the Statesman and those you extend help to.”
If you’d like to find out more about Season of Caring, you can read the stories of other families and make a donation if you feel inclined to at statesman.com/seasonforcaring.The López Guzman family also has an Amazon gift registry, with many items still needed. They are really hoping for a new or gently used car and are making it their 2022 goal to obtain one.
If you or someone you care about needs some furniture, stop by Austin's Couch Potatoes. We have locations in Central and South Austin, and have a gallery in the Furniture Mall of Texas.
Written by Emily Holleran