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Published: Tuesday, 4/2/2013

Paula Massey, 1961-2013

Volunteer set up Furniture Bank program

BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Paula Massey, who was known for being a caring and warm-hearted volunteer, died on Mar. 30 in Toledo. She was 51.

Mrs. Massey died from complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, said friend and business partner, Bonnie Hunter. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2007.

She was known for founding the Toledo-Lucas County Furniture Bank in 2006, which provided free furniture and household items to impoverished families and for those who had left domestic-violence situations. The organization helped more than 1,400 local families for two and a half years, Ms. Hunter said.

She said Mrs. Massey was generous and taught others to give back when they had the chance.

“She talked about paying it forward. She taught me a lot about giving and supporting charities, and the Furniture Bank was probably one of the best projects we ever worked on,” she said. “She wanted to make sure they [clients of the furniture bank] had something to go home to.”

The organization received recognition from the national Furniture Bank Association, and it was used as a business model for establishing a similar program in New Orleans. Mrs. Massey also served as a volunteer for 20 years, at Nature's Nursery Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation.

Martha Vetter, CEO of R/P Marketing Public Relations and founder of Chicks for Charity, agreed that Mrs. Massey relentlessly gave to others. Chicks for Charity, an organization that chooses a charity every two years and raises money by sponsoring events, selected the Toledo-Lucas County Furniture Bank as its first charity in 2006, Ms. Vetter said.

“I really think of her as someone who just so much gave back to the community, whether it was with Nature’s Nursery or Chicks for Charity. ... She was always giving back,” Ms. Vetter said.

Born Dec. 19, 1961, in Toledo, Mrs. Massey graduated from Sylvania’s Northview High School in 1979 and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo in 1989. In 2008, she received a master’s of organizational leadership degree from the then-Lourdes College.

She worked as a managing editor and founder of several print publications in the Toledo area, including The Herald newspapers and Toledo Women Today Magazine, the latter of which she formed with Ms. Hunter.

Although the magazine no longer exists, Ms. Hunter said the two created something that was ahead of its time. “We tried to feature a lot of the women who were in politics, because at the time we did it, there wasn’t a lot of talk about that.”

Mrs. Massey is survived by her husband, Stan; son, Seth Book; stepdaughter, Tara Armatas; stepson, Kyle Massey; sister, Brenda Renneker, and a grandson.

A memorial service, as well as a Buddhist service, will be announced soon. A Web site, paulamasseymemorial.com has been established to provide details for both events.

Her final wish included encouraging her friends and family to “pay it forward” by creating an event that would help a local organization or resident.

Contact Kelly McLendon at: kmclendon@theblade.com or 419-724-6522, or on Twitter @KMcBlade.



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