Humble Design Fueled by U-Haul, a charity that helps families and veterans transitioning out of homelessness through donated home furnishings and decorating services, is opening the nonprofit’s third chapter in Seattle.
Detroit-born Humble Design has served more than 900 families since beginning its philanthropic mission in 2009. With the aid of national partner U-Haul, the group opened its second chapter in Chicago in 2017.
The expansion to Seattle is possible through the ongoing cooperation and commitment of the Schultz Family Foundation, Microsoft, King County and the City of Seattle.
“As Humble Design expands nationally, we look to cities like Seattle that are innovators in implementing new solutions for an overwhelmingly growing population of fragile individuals,” Humble Design co-founder Treger Strasberg stated. “All of the companies and groups that have come together to make this happen are hugely impacting the lives of those touched by hard times.”
Seattle-area companies are encouraged to sign up for group volunteer days to decorate a home, and also have the opportunity to sponsor a family. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with donation and volunteer inquiries starting in late April, or learn more now by visiting humbledesign.org/seattle.
Humble Design delivers dignity to families emerging from homelessness by furnishing their residences with beds and other necessities, personal comforts and loving touches. Turning empty spaces into warm, welcoming homes has yielded staggering results: only 1 percent of families return to homelessness after receiving the group’s services.
That level of success has turned more than a few heads in Seattle.
The Schultz Family Foundation, led by Sheri Schultz, president and co-founder, and Howard Schultz, Starbucks executive chairman and co-founder, has backed Humble Design’s vision with a $150,000 grant to get things rolling for the new chapter.
“The Schultz Family Foundation is proud to partner with Humble Design as they launch in Seattle/King County,” said Daniel Pitasky, foundation executive director. “Humble Design is a complement to the Schultz Family Foundation’s interest in permanent housing solutions. Their program offers stability and dignity to families in transition, as well as the opportunity for members the community to better understand and support these families.”
The support of Microsoft employees, combined with Microsoft matching funds, helped generate early momentum, financing and community support for Humble Design to expand into the Puget Sound region.
“Our employees are determined to do their part to help children and families in our region have beds to sleep in and roofs over their heads,” said Karen Bergin, Director of Employee Engagement at Microsoft Philanthropies. “They’ve helped blaze the trail into Seattle for Humble Design, an organization that has provided a sense of security and dignity to formerly homeless families in Detroit and Chicago.”
King County Executive Dow Constantine held a ribbon-cutting on March 2 to showcase a county-owned warehouse on Harbor Island where Humble Design will be able to store donated furnishings. The facility at 3235 16th Ave. SW in Seattle should be able to receive donations by the end of April.
Humble Design Seattle will begin by helping one family a week with the goal of quickly reaching three families a week.
Tia Chang has been named site manager. Chang holds a Sociology degree from American University and comes to Humble Design from a prominent Seattle law firm.
Strasberg will formally announce the new chapter on March 8 at the Be Bold Seattle event celebrating International Women’s Day, but not before Humble Design works its magic on March 6 for its first Seattle family. Single mother Andrea and her eight children will have their new apartment transformed into an inviting home after eight months of living in her car and eight months at Mary’s Place shelter for homeless families.
Mary’s Place will also work with Humble Design to identify families and veterans in need in King County.
Humble Design has been profiled by NBC’s Today show, ABC’s World News Tonight, CNN, Inside Edition, Forbes, and many other national and local media outlets. Since starting the nonprofit, Strasberg has focused her efforts on assisting single mothers emerging from shelters and moving with their children into low-income housing. Many families helped are victims of abuse and have left behind all material possessions.
U-Haul International signed on as Humble Design’s primary sponsor in 2016, offering the equipment, storage and national infrastructure to make the operation more seamless and national expansion possible. Later that year, Humble Design appointed ad industry trailblazer Rob Strasberg, Treger’s husband, co-CEO to oversee the expansion efforts.
“Our goal is to end the revolving door of homelessness by turning empty spaces into warm, welcoming homes thru a dignified experience that leads to successful lives,” Rob Strasberg stated.
Chapters in additional cities, including San Diego, are also in the planning phases as Humble Design strives to fight homelessness on a national scale. By the end of 2018, the group will have served more than 1,000 families and changed more than 6,000 lives.
“Our shared ideals to help people meet their basic human needs make Humble Design and U-Haul effective partners,” noted Kim Merow, U-Haul Company of South Seattle president. “There is a collective passion to make a genuine difference in Seattle while fighting the epidemic of homelessness.”