Family, homeless for years, gets new start with furnished home and $10K for school

PHOTO: Daerye, 8, and his mother, Dionna Neely, of Detroit, Michigan, in their new home. Their home was furnished and decorated for free by Humble Design, a charity that helps the formerly homeless.Humble Design
Daerye, 8, and his mother, Dionna Neely, of Detroit, Michigan, in their new home. Their home was furnished and decorated for free by Humble Design, a charity that helps the formerly homeless.

The last four weeks have been a whirlwind -- full of tears, joy and surprises -- for the Neely family in Detroit, Michigan, but today took the cake.

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On Dec. 15, Dionna Neely, formerly homeless, and son Daerye Neely, 8, got the holiday surprise of a lifetime: Their new home was completely furnished, for free, by the charity Home Design.

And, this afternoon, Neely, with Daerye standing by her side, was presented with a check for $10,000 by the U-Haul Company of Detroit, Michigan, a national partner of Humble Design.

PHOTO: Dionna Neely was presented with a check to help her finish nursing school by the U-Haul Company of Detroit Jan. 12. She said she and son Daerye were incredibly grateful to everyone whod helped their family.
Humble Design
Dionna Neely was presented with a check to help her finish nursing school by the U-Haul Company of Detroit Jan. 12. She said she and son Daerye were incredibly grateful to everyone who'd helped their family.

"On behalf of the U-Haul Company of Detroit, and to help you realize your dream of nursing school, I'd like to present you this check for $10,000," said U-Haul's Bill Raines. "Congratulations. ... You're an inspiration to us."

The move brought Neely to tears.

"Thank you so much," she said. "I appreciate everything. We are so grateful and so honored that everyone is interested in our story. And, I'm glad that I can be an inspiration to someone else who's going through what I've been through."

Daerye was also presented with a PlayStation 4 by Humble Design warehouse manager Carl Kyles.

PHOTO: Daerye Neely was presented with a PlayStation 4 Jan. 12 by U-Haul and Humble Design.Humble Design
Daerye Neely was presented with a PlayStation 4 Jan. 12 by U-Haul and Humble Design.

For most of his young life, Daerye did not have a place to call home. In 2012, Neely lost her job, then her home and was forced to drop out of school. The two lived with family for five years, then in homeless shelters until November, when the state finally placed them in their own home.

Unfortunately, however, they could not afford to furnish the residence.

A social worker working with them shared their circumstances with Humble Design, which reached out to the Neelys to see if it could help. Humble Design furnishes homes for the formerly homeless with furniture donations.

PHOTO: Daerye Neely, 8, of Detroit, could not contain his surprise seeing his newly furnished home. After the initial shock, he broke down in tears and hugged his mom Dec. 15, 2017.Humble Design
Daerye Neely, 8, of Detroit, could not contain his surprise seeing his newly furnished home. After the initial shock, he broke down in tears and hugged his mom Dec. 15, 2017.

Treger and Rob Strasberg started the nonprofit in 2009 and have furnished more than 850 homes, they told ABC News.

"We take your donated goods you're no longer using -- all your knickknacks, all your large pieces of furniture -- and we repurpose it for families," Treger Strasberg said.

In December, just days before Christmas, Neely and Daerye were welcomed back into their newly furnished home, which was also decorated for Christmas, complete with gifts under the tree.

PHOTO: Humble Design, a nonprofit that furnishes homes for the formerly homeless, shared before and after shots of Daerye Neelys room.
Humble Design
Humble Design, a nonprofit that furnishes homes for the formerly homeless, shared before and after shots of Daerye Neely's room.

As he entered his bedroom, Daerye became speechless and broke down into tears, burying his face into his mother's arms.

He'd been sleeping on blankets on the floor in his room. Now, he had a desk, a bed, a dresser and even a nook to sit and read.

PHOTO: Daerye Neely, 8, shows off his new room in Detroit.Humble Design
Daerye Neely, 8, shows off his new room in Detroit.

Neely and Daerye told ABC News today that they were very grateful for the experiences.

"We want to thank everyone for all the love and support we have received," Neely said.

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