'Design can be life changing': Tech startup builds more beautiful Bay Area for homeless women & children

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- ABC7 News is dedicated to telling stories about people and places in our community who are building a better Bay Area, including a tech company that worked to improve the lives of homeless women and children in San Francisco.

"We really wanted to make the space feel cozy and warm," said Alessandra Wood, the VP of Style for Modsy, an online interior design startup, headquartered in San Francisco.

"We had talked about wanting to do something special to give back," said Wood. Soon their 4th anniversary, Wood and a team of 40 set out to transform the Star Community Home in one day.

"This is a women's shelter, a shelter for moms and their children and we wanted them to feel special," explained Wood.

Now kids living at the Richmond District shelter, are enjoying their colorful new playroom, chic community dining space and luxurious mother's corner.

"I like the windows and everything," exclaimed 4-year-old Kabab Yohannes, who has been living at Star Community Home with his mother and younger brother for two years and is now enjoying the home's new furniture, toys, and cheery décor.

Kate: "What do you think of the couch?"

Kabab: "Its cozy!"

Kabab's mother, Ruta Eyasu, came to the U.S. from Eritrea, through political asylum. But, she and her boys ended up homeless in San Francisco, until Catholic Charities found them a spot at Star.

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"They help me for everything and now I'm safe," Eyasu said.

Since they opened seven years ago, Star Community Home has housed more than 1,100 women and children.

15 families can stay at the home at a time. And on average, they stay for 6 months.

Ninety percent of Star families leave because they found stable housing.

Just last week, Star helped Eyasu and her children secure new housing in San Francisco.

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"I got a house, yeah, I'm so happy," said Eyasu through a big smile and laugh.

Star Community Home program director, Lucia Lopez, has noticed that ever since the Modsy makeover, other Star families have been happy too.

"All the staff have noticed it, for some reason this new transformation has helped the families be nicer to each other, and try to help each other, engaging in a more positive way, especially in the community room."

"Design can be life-changing," said Wood, who says that in the future, Modsy hopes to spread the love to more spaces in need.

Another San Francisco tech company has been instrumental in the Star Community Home. The Salesforce Foundation has provided critical support and funding to the shelter for many years.

See more inspiring stories from ABC7's Building a Better Bay Area.
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