Designing for Dignity

Humble Design's Lisa Crawford Shares Their Mission

Our founder, Treger Strasberg, started this nonprofit in 2009 when she befriended a woman who had been at a shelter with her two children after fleeing domestic violence. Treger helped this woman get an apartment and was delighted to be able to have such a huge impact on their lives. What she admits she had never thought about at the time was that this woman had literally nothing to put in that apartment. When she stopped by to visit them, she discovered they were sleeping in nests of their coats on the bedroom floors. She was horrified and could hardly conceive that her life of privilege had shielded her from this harsh reality—that people who obtain supportive housing have next to nothing to make those four walls feel warm, functional, and dignified.

Treger began asking her friends for their extra household furniture and items. Within weeks she had enough to completely furnish the apartment. However, the furniture donations kept coming. People wanted their gently used items to go to someone in need, for free. She called around to various shelters trying to find one that would take the furniture and décor items she was finding on her porch and driveway, but none of them had a way to store the furniture or get it to the clients. She had found a gaping hole in all the combined communal responses to assisting those exiting homelessness. Treger wanted to do more.

Fast forward thirteen years, and we’re proud to report that we’ve furnished and decorated over 2,552 houses and apartments, impacting over 8,048 people’s lives. In Detroit we've done over 1,466 homes, serving 4,244 people. Those who receive Humble Design’s services are three times more likely to remain housed than those from the same shelter who do not. The impact it has on stabilizing these women and children, by creating an environment that respects their dignity and worth, is enormous.

Angered by the adage, “beggars can’t be choosers,” Treger was determined to shift the paradigm and treat those who were referred to our program as design clients. Each client works with a team of two part-time designers, who interview them and their children before going on to personalize, curate, design and beautifully furnish their living spaces—all in three days.

Every week in the Metro Detroit area, we furnish three homes with the donated goods from the community that are dropped off at our Pontiac warehouse. We have over 20 partnering agencies that we have contracted with who are authorized to make referrals to us. There is no direct application process to receive our services. Donating your gently used household items, your time to help us sort donations in the warehouse, your time helping our Designers put together everything in the house, and your dollars are what help us fulfill our mission. We are proud to report that 81 cents of every dollar donated to Humble Design goes directly to serving our clients. 

Want to get involved? Here’s how to help! Visit for additional information and details.

1.       Make a cash donation to Humble Design Detroit. Cash is an easy way to help the mission of Humble Design and allows funds to be used where they are most needed.

2.       Donate gently used furniture. Currently, mattresses, tall dressers, nightstands, end tables, coffee tables, bookshelves, and small desks are most needed. In addition to furniture, items such as baking sheets, silverware, artwork, and microwaves are also accepted.

3.       Sign up to volunteer! Volunteers are needed regularly to sort donations in the Pontiac warehouse, and for Deco Days.

4.       Check out Humble Design Detroit’s Amazon and Target wishlists. Wishlist items are things not commonly donated but are highly needed by Humble Design’s families.

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