Gallagher Hall Goes Generously Into That Good Night
Gallagher Hall has one more good deed to perform before marching into history.
In 1961, the newly opened women’s residential hall was a million-dollar baby, part of a historic era of growth for Creighton University.
Sixty-one years later, as a brand-new residential hall arises at 23rd and Burt Streets, Gallagher will be razed in mid-May, but not before it adds one more good deed to its long and storied history.
There is a lot of furniture in Gallagher Hall.
And there is great need out there among various charities for beds and bedframes, desks and the many other kinds of furniture that accommodated generations of Creighton students but will now be used to improve the lives of refugees and other people in need.
By the middle of March, almost 200 beds and bedframes, along with other useful furniture will be donated and moved by volunteer crews affiliated with such local charities as Restoring Dignity, The Furniture Project, the Refugee Empowerment Center and Lutheran Family Services, among others.
Derek Scott, associate vice president for facilities management at Creighton, says the University’s Division of Student Life identified Gallagher’s beds and furniture as excess property considering the new residential hall that is expected to open in the fall of 2023.
Scott says, “The furniture still has value, so tossing it in a landfill just doesn’t make sense. Not only are we able to help those in most need, but we are also able to avoid landfill waste and disposal costs.”
For fear of leaving someone out, Scott is reluctant to list the many organizations that will benefit from the repurposing, although he said the primary partners are Restore Dignity and The Furniture Project.
“The beautiful thing is that they are all in contact with each other,” he says. “I walked three organizations through Gallagher Hall early on in this process, and all of them planned together how they could manage the inventory to the benefit of everyone.”
A Tremendous Need
Kaela Volkmer, MSW, CSW, executive director of The Furniture Project, and a 1994 Creighton graduate who lived at Gallagher during her sophomore year, said the donations are proving timely.
“With the arrival of hundreds of evacuees from Afghanistan who had to leave everything behind, there is a tremendous need for beds and other furnishings,” she says. “As we, along with our partner agency, Restoring Dignity, strive to support the refugee resettlement agencies in ensuring that Afghan evacuees and others have what they need for a fresh start, this donation could not have come at a better time.”
Hannah Wyble, who graduated from Creighton in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in social work, is founder and executive director of Restoring Dignity, an agency that assists refugees. She says the Gallagher furniture will help refugees, but also, through a partnership with Volkmer’s The Furniture Project, victims of domestic abuse, homelessness and violent crime.
“We have an 18,000-square-foot warehouse, and our goal is to give furniture to families who need it,” she says. “A lot of the Afghan families that are coming in are getting furniture from this warehouse.
“We have other refugee families from Burma and the Congo and countries all over the world who are getting furniture. We have families who are secondary migrants, who maybe were resettled in another city but moved to Omaha and they have nothing.
“Normally it would take these families a very long time to get enough money to buy these items.”