GLENDALE, Ariz. — For all of the substantial additions to her modest second-story apartment, it was the small touches that left Jamie Cortez choked up as she surveyed her transformed home.
“My house looks so gorgeous right now,” Cortez said. “For anybody to come and put this much care into somebody’s things … you have no clue who I am or anything else, and you just made a family happy.”
It’s this type of life-changing difference that U-Haul and Humble Design aim to make when partnering to help furnish residences for families fighting their way back from homelessness and/or abuse shelters.
Detroit-based nonprofit Humble Design teamed with U-Haul International and Phoenix-based UMOM New Day Centers, the largest shelter for homeless families in Arizona, to assist their first Valley family in May: the Cortezes.
Cortez and her three sons, ranging in age from 8 to 14, had been sleeping on the floor since getting their own place after a stint with UMOM, which served as a safe haven once she escaped a bad relationship.
“I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. The boys had an air mattress,” Cortez said. “It was hard. I was hoping I could get everything on my own, but it’s hard. It’s really hard.”
A collection of U-Haul Team Members and Humble Design organizers spent an entire day decorating their largely barren Glendale apartment with donated and purchased items, including new mattresses and bedding, a dining room table and chairs, kitchen appliances, rugs, curtains, electronics, books, pictures, plants and much more.
There was even a snow-cone maker and Nerf toys for the boys, whose wide eyes and awestruck faces told the story as they checked out their new room.
“The thing I was expecting is now my kids are going to have beds, and we’re going to have somewhere we can sit and watch a movie together,” Cortez said. “I was just grateful. So much gratitude. I wasn’t expecting rugs in every room, pictures on every wall. To go through and not have (anything), and then to come back and have this is great.”
Stayed tuned for more U-Haul projects and news with Humble Design. To learn more about U-Haul Company’s community involvement or to request a donation, visit uhaul.com.