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Detroit-based charity, Humble Design, goes national with U-Haul partnership

Humble Design

Humble Design has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the garage of its co-founder, Treger Strasberg.

Strasberg got the idea for the non-profit after a co-worker and her children became homeless. 

After some time in a shelter, the family found a house to rent. But they had almost no possessions.  Strasberg recalls visiting the home and being shocked at how they had to live.

"(They made) little nests on the floor of where they were going to sleep with their coats and their clothing," she says, "and (they had) no furniture at all."

Strasberg asked friends and neighbors to pitch in with items for the home, and she soon had more than enough to completely outfit the house.

The incident eventually led Strasberg to a new vocation.  Humble Design has done interior makeovers for 660 households, most of them single mothers with children, but also some formerly homeless veterans.

Strasberg says there's a reason the recipient families are asked to leave the house for a day, and then come back for a big reveal. The homes are typically transformed from a few boxes and mats on the floor to completely furnished, with lamps, rugs, wall art, furniture, and real beds.

"Selfishly, I want to see that moment of relief and genuine unabated joy," says Strasberg, "and I feel they need that moment too. I mean, this last year for them has been the worst."

Strasberg says the makeovers restore families' dignity and security, and greatly reduce the risk that they will become homeless again. 

Now, Humble Designs is going national, with a new partnership with U-Haul, which will provide warehouses and trucks for makeovers in other cities.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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