It started off simple real estate listing—but it led to so much more.
Back in October, Washington state realtor Michelle McLean listed a home in University Place. But things became complicated when she got to know the home’s former tenant: Casmin Savare, a single mother of four boys, aged 11 through 18. She learned that they had no place to go once the house was sold—they would effectively be homeless. McLean knew she had to do something to help this family in need.
“I heard that these teenagers were sleeping in their car,” Michelle told Q13.
“And that’s what really motivated me to act.”
First, she set them up with some temporary housing. Her daughter had an RV that wasn’t being used, and she offered it to Savare and her children to stay in for the time being.
They took up her generous offer—a big step-up from sleeping in a car. But the next step was to find a new, affordable place to live.
A few weeks later, Savare found a perfect spot: a Section 8 apartment near the Tacoma Mall. The only catch was that the apartment was completely empty and unfurnished. They would need to buy furniture and stock up on supplies.
Still, it was a home, and they made plans to move in.
Little did she know, there was another surprise in store.
When Savare and her sons arrived at their new apartment on move-in day, they discovered there were people already there: McLean, and a big group of other strangers they had never seen before.
“We have a little surprise for you guys,” McLean tells her.
So Savare enters her home for the first time … and breaks down with emotion at what she finds:
The whole apartment is fully stocked and furnished!
“Oh, my God. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord!” Savare says.
Hundreds of volunteers showed up to give the apartment the Extreme Makeover treatment, a surprise orchestrated by McLean.
“It’s amazing,” Mclean told KING5 News. “I don’t even know some of these people.”
She says she started with a small group of volunteers, and let it grow through word-of-mouth and social media.
“I picked 12 people, one person for each room. And I asked them to take the room on and reach out to their friends… and that’s sort of how it grew.”
Their hard work paid off—by the end of their makeover, they suddenly turned the house into a home, totally ready to be lived in.
“We’re not just giving them furniture,” Michelle said. “Like if you open the linen closet there is everything. The kids have new clothes and new shoes. There is food and a freezer full of stuff.”
The surprise was a life-affirming moment for the struggling single mother.
“There are good people out here, and I’m loved,” Savare told Q13 News. “Even when I felt like I wasn’t loved. I am truly loved and I’m blessed for it.”
“All I could do was fall to my knees and praise God,” she told KING5.
“It restored my faith in humanity.”
But for the group of strangers who came together to make it happen, it was the least they could do to help their neighbor.
“We are your community,” McLean said in a speech after the surprise reveal.
“We are here today to demonstrate our belief that when people join together for good, lives are forever changed.”