Home Sweet Home
Angels and Dreamers helps local girl fulfill her dream to help the homeless.
“I’m going to make a hotel for homeless people where they can have food and shelter — a home,” she says.
Her grandmother FayeFriedman is friends with Rabbi Daniel Syme of Temple Beth El, who this summer, with help from 8-year-old Noah Ostheimer of White Lake, launched Angels and Dreamers, a new foundation with the goal of helping Jewish children ages 7-11 do the mitzvahs they wish they could do if only they had the resources.
Friedman told Noa about Angels and Dreamers. Noa, who lives with parents Carole and Shlome BenEzra and sister Ellie, 5, in West Bloomfield and attends Keter Torah and Adat Shalom synagogues, wrote Syme a letter right away, sharing her dream to help the homeless.
Humble Design was formed in 2009 by two Birmingham women, Ana Smith and Treger Strasberg, to help families coming out of homeless and abuse shelters with the process of rebuilding their home lives. Many of these families are victims of abuse and have left behind all personal items upon escaping and entering an emergency shelter. Most have no beds, books, toys or furniture to call their own. Humble Design steps in with everything it takes to make a house a home.
“It’s so cool and heartwarming that young kids like Noa want to help,” said Carrie Parmenter, lead designer and client relations manager at Humble Design. “The children she’s helping probably haven’t had a bed of their own in years. Even though children get toys along with furniture and beds, it’s the beds they’re most excited about. These families have gone through so much together and worked hard to get in a home. They care about the stuff that is important to family.”
Noa and her grandmother began to plan what they wanted to do for the children, Jayvon, 6, and Akyla, 5, who will be living in the home being decorated by Humble Design. “Having Noa be able to have a concrete experience of the joy of giving is priceless,” Friedman said. “Her secular school and religious school classes have always ‘given’ to organizations throughout the year, but this was a chance for her to help real people — hands-on!”
Noa and her grandma went shopping. “My grandma told me what Akyla was like. She wasn’t a girly-girl. I’m not either. She likes reading and music and the color blue — the same things I like,” Noa says.
She chose a rainbow-patterned comforter for Akyla and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sheets for Jayvon. They bought pillows, books and games.
While Noa went through the Humble Design warehouse choosing more things she thought the children would like to have in their new home, she told her grandma that she was “looking forward to making a new friend.”
When Noah heard about Noa’s dream from Syme, he asked for posters about Humble Design that he could pass out around his neighborhood. He came to help at the warehouse, working with Noa to choose items for the family she would be helping.
At the family’s home, Noa and Noah worked hard unloading the cars and bringing in all the goodies from Humble Design. Jayvon and Akyla’s mom, Angel, was there to greet everyone who was helping. Jayvon and Akyla would be coming home later — after everything had been set up and their new house had truly become a home.
Noa worked hard to set up Akyla’s bedroom and was excited to meet her new friend. “I’ve always liked helping people,” she said. “I plan to keep on doing it.”
“By the time the two children got home, the house was stunning, especially their bedrooms,” Syme said. “The kids took it all in — with Angel smiling ear to ear — then found some toys. The four kids went outside and played on the sidewalk while the adults looked on in joy and pride.”
Syme said he was most touched by something Noa said earlier that day. They had been talking about all that they would be bringing to the family: beds, dishes, pictures, furniture and toys. “Noa told me, ‘What we’re really bringing is love.’”
By Jackie Headapohl, Managing Editor, Photos by Jerry Zolynsky
If you are a Jewish child between the ages of 7-11 who has a dream to perform a mitzvah but don’t know how to do it, or are a member of the community or business owner who would like to be on call as an angel to make those dreams come true, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Angels and Dreamers” in the subject line, or mail a letter to:
Angels and Dreamers
c/o the Jewish News
29200 Northwestern Highway
Southfield, MI 48034