Humble Design: What Makes a House a Home?
Humble Design: What Makes a House a Home?
At Mor Furniture we believe in turning houses into homes by providing exceptional service to our customers but also give value to integrity, wellness and giving back to our communities. In 2019, we discovered a group of individuals actively making a change one house at a time, and in their own words “turn moving in – into moving forward.”
Humble Design is a nonprofit organization that helps families, individuals and veterans transition out of homeless shelters by providing furnishings and design services. They facilitate full transformations of empty houses through generous donations by the community and giving partners. Every week the Humble Design team members and volunteers work together in turning houses into clean, dignified and welcoming homes for those hoping for a fresh start.
Last November (with COVID safety measures in place), Mor Furniture teamed up with Humble Design San Diego to help furnish and decorate an entire house for a single mother, Faith and her three children. Faith is a domestic violence survivor navigating life in a wheelchair all while raising her kids. This is just one of many stories to tell.
Meet Humble Design co-founder Treger Strasberg and CEO Rob Strasberg on founding the charity, plans for expansion and all the how-to in helping fight against homelessness.
What is your organization’s vision and mission?
Treger: Our mission is simple. Humble Design changes lives and communities by furnishing the homes of families and veterans emerging from homelessness.
We are one piece in solving the homelessness puzzle.
Rob: We believe in restoring dignity to every family that has suffered through homelessness.
Treger: We use donated household goods to transform empty, cold houses for the recently homeless, into warm, welcoming and uplifting homes, that lead to successful lives.
Rob: We have warehouses in San Diego, Seattle, Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago. As we grow our aim is to build the world’s most committed and creative network of individuals, community leaders and corporations, to ensure that those who have struggled with homelessness, now have a beautiful and inspiring home to restart their life.
How did Humble Design start?
Treger: In 2008 a friend fell into homelessness, she worked hard to get back into a home. When I visited them, the house was empty. They had nothing and were sleeping on the floor. She had lost everything when they went to the shelter. Over the course of a few weeks I organized donations from the community and fully decorated her home to her taste and her children’s likes.
That was 11 years ago. We have now helped over 7,000 moms, children and veterans.
What has been your organization’s biggest achievement to date?
Treger: Our successes rate. 99% of the people we help at Humble stay housed. Compare that to the National average of about 50%, it’s a great feeling knowing we’re helping end the revolving door of homelessness for so many.
Can you share a particular client story that has made an impact in how Humble Design operates today? What was the lesson?
Treger: One of the things we are most proud of is when a past client ends up giving back to the community. More than a few have started their own nonprofits and have gone on to volunteer with us as well. We work hard to keep connected with our past families and love sharing their successes. It reminds us of how important every aspect of understanding someone’s life situation is. Having a deep connection and empathy with those we help has helped us serve others better.
How can someone volunteer, donate, contribute to your organization?
Rob: There are lots of ways to help out with Humble. The most fun is to volunteer and decorate a home with us. It’s amazing to see the family come home and watch the children run to their beds.
Of course we need funds to operate our warehouse, run our trucks and keep the donated goods organized and ready for our families.
How has your experience been working with partners?
Treger: From the very start our partners have made us go. Most every home is sponsored by local businesses. Our volunteer workforce is often made of our partner’s employees and it’s a great way to team build while making a meaningful impact in the community.
What is your organization currently most in need of?
Rob: Like most every non-profit our greatest need is funding. Humble Design is a logistics business and we have a small, passionate, full time staff. Of course, the majority of our labor force is volunteers that are organized by staff.
Any tips / etiquette on donating pre-loved furniture?
Treger: Anything that would go in your house goes in our houses. Furniture that’s gently worn. Please nothing with rips, stains or if it’s in need of repair. We don’t install anything either. If it’s a household item, a full set is always preferable.
What do you hope to achieve for the organization in the next 3 to 5 years?
Treger: Our goal is to expand from 2 families a week to 3 in San Diego. There are so many families that are on our waiting list now.
Nationally we hope to move from 10 homes a week to 20 as we open in Tampa and beyond.