Nancy Kanell; A True Inspiration


Amber McGhee, Reporter

Small organizations oftentimes get overlooked by large corporations. With the help of social media, smaller organizations are finally receiving credit for all the hard work that they do for their communities. Nancy Kanell runs Project Home Again, a non profit organization in Massachusetts. With the help of TikTok, she recently soared straight into stardom. When asked how TikTok affected her career, she stated, “It didn’t impact my career at all. I founded PHA and run it, so nothing has changed in that regard. It has dramatically changed the way we can help our clients.” Project Home Again was started in 2003 when Nancy helped a woman find a stove. This jump-started her career, but she didn’t always know if she wanted to help others. “I was always pretty politically active, but my career was in publishing prior to founding PHA.” Her decision in a career change brought about a prosperous change in thousands of people’s lives. Now, after doing Project Home again for 19 years, one might ask what’s next for the organization.

Would you ever want to expand to a nationwide organization? “Never! I am 59 years old and working about 60 hours a week. It is hard enough to run one. I am mentoring people starting their own furniture banks but they cannot call it Project Home Again. If I were to open in other places, I would be responsible if the staff did something wrong or illegal. Any location not functioning well could give us a bad name and I could lose everything I spent 19 years building. I am happy mentoring people and leaving it at that.”

With all of the financial difficulties due to COVID-19, many people suffered many losses. Project Home Again helped many people during their struggles, but COVID-19 did not influence Project Home Again.

“Honest answer is no. We help everyone we can and have been doing so for 19 years. The population we serve suffers devastating events all the time. We had a gas explosion a few years back and thousands of families were without heat for a year, jobs and homes were lost – it devastated the community. So we always feel a huge responsibility to the community we serve. COVID made it more complicated and upped our numbers of people needed help, but always the same commitment on our end.”

Many people want to start an organization to help others or they want to help donate, but many do not know where to start. For the people wanting to start a nonprofit organization like yours, what advice would you give them? “Start small. Do one thing and do it well. That is the message I heard over and over again when I toured nonprofits before starting PHA.” As times are changing, organizations have to make decisions for the future that strengthen the bond between the community and themselves, so in five years Nancy has a plan to hand over the organization to her loyal volunteers.

“I hope that will be my last year and I will be handing over the reins to a wonderful person from the community we serve. We are putting in the work right now to buy our own place so I hope we are cutting a ribbon 5 years from now. I see us well funded and thriving and serving 1000 families a year. I see us as still being true to ourselves – always putting our clients’ needs first and doing whatever we can to contribute to the well being of the community we serve.”

From an old broken stove to one minute TikTok videos, many can agree that Nancy’s Project Home Again has impacted her community and her organization has grown such a large supportive following that she can easily be seen as an inspiration for others to follow.