DETROIT (WJBK) – Thanks to the kindness of strangers, a mother of six who bought a fixer upper and was left with next to nothing when her husband was murdered is now looking at a much nicer home.
“This has been a journey for her, for sure,” said Joi Harris, DTE VP of Gas Operations. “This has been a home that she’s owned for nine months that she could not live in. And for the first time tonight, this family will be able to sleep in a bed.”
Two months ago, with the help of the Yatooma Foundation for the Kids, Fox 2 met 33-year-old Estelle Barnes-Summers, learning the father of her children, while in the middle of fixing up their house, had been shot and killed.
After seeing the story, 40 DTE volunteers stepped up, along with volunteers from OCG companies and Humble Design, clocked in 1,500 hours of work. They even worked through the night Tuesday for the big reveal Wednesday.
Looking at her new kitchen, living room and bedrooms, Estelle was overcome with emotion, recalled what her home used to look like.
“I didn’t expect this I was just happy with walls,” she said.
Each bedroom, including Estelle’s, was decorated for their personalities with some extra gifts.
This is the very best of community helping community,” attorney Norman Yatooma, president Yatooma Foundation for the Kids. “To restore to them some measure of the safety and security they lost when their dad died – in this extraordinary fashion, totally overwhelmed.”
With all new energy efficient appliances including a new water heater, a security system and a new roof, Estelle has to pinch herself.
“Oh my God I feel like I’m dreaming, it doesn’t feel real,” she said. “This is beyond a blessing. For them to come out and help like this, I don’t know what to say. That’s why I am hugging everybody like thank you, thank you.”
Estelle says seeing the joy return to her children’s eyes is all she’s ever wanted, as these volunteers can’t help but smile seeing some of her joy return as well.
“Our hope is that the children now understand that there are people who care, and they care deeply,” said Harris. “And they care deeply and they are willing to give of themselves to make sure a family like theirs that deserves it, has a home.”