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‘Furniture Lady’ helps Montecito mudslide survivor piece his life back together

A Montecito businesswoman affectionately known as “The Furniture Lady” is still at it, furnishing homes for people impacted by recent disasters for free.

Melissa Pierson just put the finishing touches on the home of Ralph “Lalo” Barajas, who lost everything including his longtime partner Peter Fleuret, in the mudslide.

Pierson estimates she has helped more than 75 people, and completely furnished 26 homes with furniture from her warehouse since the Thomas Fire and mudslide.

“If I had to do a lot of this stuff, I’d probably still be months out before I finish up. So this is a very kind gesture on her part,” Barajas said. “I needed to plant some roots and it feels like that process has started.”

Pierson is the owner of local vacation rental company Coastal Hideaways.

Her massive warehouse of furniture and home accessories used for staging properties, is now almost empty after Pierson gave it away to those in need.

Barajas had been displaced from his Montecito home since Jan. 9, and was sleeping on a blow up mattress until Pierson gave him a bed.

Pierson thought her mission to help was almost over, but then the Holiday Fire broke out in Goleta in early July and destroyed more homes.

“We are already starting to get calls once again for people who need resources, furniture for people who lost everything,” she said.

Pierson said she won’t stop giving back until the need is over.

“I made a commitment when I took on this project that as long as there was a need I would help them,” Pierson said.

If you would like to donate furniture or other items, call Coastal Hideaways at (805) 969-1995 or click here.

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