June 2022 Honoree
President & Founder
UPward Design for Life Corp.
Dionne Williamson founded UPward Design for Life in 2017, starting it in her garage as an all-volunteer run, and led, non-profit organization. UPward Design for Life furnishes homes and transforms lives for those in need by completely furnishing empty spaces with furniture donated by the community. She says, “I heard about this organization in Detroit furnishing homes for folks who didn’t have anything.” So Dionne turned her love of interior design and desire to help the community into a service; to-date they have helped 48 local families.
She serves on the board of Vision Niagara and is an active volunteer with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, the Family Justice Center, Friends of Broderick Park, and Judges Row Block Club. She is a member of the Fifty Fabulous Women Giving Circle and is an advisor on the Canalside Music Advisory Council.
Dionne said this in a recent interview with Buffalo Spree: “To me, design is everything; we are so deeply impacted by our surroundings. I have always done volunteer work and it seemed to me this could combine my two passions. I researched the idea, picked people’s brains, figured out the paperwork, got my 501(c)3 status, and reached out to our first partner, the Family Justice Center. Now we get all kinds of referrals; we have a waiting list of client families. The goal is to make homes more livable for people who have been living in shelters, people who have suffered: abuse victims, refugees. We collect gently used furniture, see what their needs are, provide design services, and fully furnish their new homes. The community sustains us, we get donations from private individuals, help reduce waste.”.
She’s proud to serve those in need: their work has an immediate positive impact on families, turning empty spaces into fully furnished, safe and comfortable spaces. According to Dionne, it’s been a challenge to find enough storage space for the donated furniture although she’s grateful Life Storage has provided space free of charge until the end of 2021.
She is currently national sales director at Visit Buffalo, and previously was a interior design consultant with Ethan Allen. Dionne was the owner of New Age Expressions, a home-based greeting card business. She formerly served in the United States Army Reserve. Her degree in business administration is from Medaille College and she’s a certified interior design consultant, New York Institute of Art & Design.