SAN DIEGO — A single mother and her three children escaping domestic violence received the gift of a lifetime. In this Zevely Zone, I met a family of four who replaced living on the streets with a home for good. To shoot this story we went to a downtown condo that hours before our arrival was completely empty.
A family emerging from homelessness was about to return home to a condo filled with everything they have dreamed about and more. In a matter of hours, the condo was transformed from empty to elegant. The place was totally empty until some angels showed up.
"We rolled up this morning, there was not one stick of furniture in the place not one thing on the wall. In one day, it's become this," said Laura Lavoie from Humble Design.
Her non-profit has performed this miracle for 48 San Diego families this year alone. "It's one of the most amazing feelings in the world to be able to give back in a meaningful way and know that somebody else's life is going to change today for good. We get goosebumps every Thursday and Friday," said Laura.
La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre sponsored the reveal. "At one point I thought there is no way we are going to get all of this ready on time," said Dr. Kiersten Riedler who brought volunteers and a five-thousand-dollar donation to pay for the makeover. As the family was taking the elevator to their unit, I asked Dr. Riedler how she was feeling. "A little bit of butterflies I am excited for them to see it, I am excited to see the looks in the kids' eyes when they see their own beds with their own things and their own name on the wall," said Dr. Riedler.
All of the furnishings and decorations would have cost $25,000, but no family should have to choose between furniture and food. Laura's eyes filled with tears. "When you meet the family you will understand," said Laura.
The door opened and the volunteers said, "Welcome home." Shawnie Atchison and her three children beat homelessness and much more. "I left a domestic violence relationship approximately two years ago," said Shawnie. Suddenly her family has pots and pans, a kitchen table, a living room set, and perhaps best of all? "Whoa!!" said the kids.
All four family members have beds to sleep in. Humble Design makes it clear; the family didn't win this; it was earned by the hard work and love of a mother. "Thank you I really appreciate this so much," said Shawnie. "My prayer was to have a two-bedroom home and here I am. My kids are going to be in a safe and healthy home and grow up with not being fearful. They are going to see that god works in many ways."
Shawnie also wants to thank the East County Transitional Living Center for finding her family a safe place to live and helping them rebuild their lives. The non-profit Humble Design serves individuals, families, and veterans emerging from homelessness by transforming empty houses into professionally designed welcoming homes using donated furniture and household goods. This act of service breaks the cycle of homelessness for Humble Design clients.
Shawnie plans on writing a book to inspire other single mothers trying to escape domestic violence. If you'd like to sponsor a makeover or learn more about Humble Design, click here.