A Michigan teen has gone above and beyond to help give two down-on-their-luck families homes of their own in his ongoing quest to end homelessness.
Caleb White has worked for most of his life to help the needy in Detroit get back on their feet.
“When I was six, I saw a homeless man sleeping on the side of the road; this was the first time I had ever seen anybody homeless, ever,” White, now 15, told InsideEdition.com. “I asked my parents what it meant to be homeless and when they explained it, it really hit me.”
White wanted to help in any way he could, and with his family’s assistance, the little boy put together care packages that he hoped would provide a source of comfort for anyone on the streets.
“I packed clothes and different supplies like toiletries to help them get through the winter months outside,” he said. “I went to downtown Detroit with my 10 boxes and handed them out.”
As White grew, so did his mission, and what began with 10 boxes eventually developing into a full-blown non-profit organization dedicated to helping those in need.
And this year, White fulfilled a nearly lifelong goal: To give the homeless homes of their own.
“I always had that dream, and it’s actually just happened,” he said. “It’s great.”
The Caleb White Project’s Board — comprised of eight members all under the age of 18 — came together with the Detroit Rescue Mission and the Lowe’s Heroes program in August to renovate a duplex from top to bottom for two homeless families.
“They were down there every day,” White said of the many volunteers, including 300 Lowe's employees, who worked around the clock to ensure the homes were ready in time for the big reveal.
“They were just hardworking and amazing.”
On Aug. 26, the two families of four were given the keys to their own homes. They were blown away by what they saw.
“When they went in and we actually got to take them through the houses, they were just shocked; it was a really cool thing to see,” White said. “They kind of melted down. They were beyond happy.”
White believes it was the little touches that meant the most.
“We got their address engraved on a little plaque, and it really symbolized they have somewhere to go and call their own,” he said. “When you’re getting back on your feet, to have something you know you own, that’s big. They were insanely thankful... and then they saw it was a bunch of kids [who helped orchestrate the effort] — that was great.”
Though he’s accomplished a long-standing goal, White hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.
“Our next big thing we’re going to do is open a youth leadership center in one of the buildings owned by the Detroit Rescue Mission,” he explained. “Younger kids from our volunteer list will be able to come down if they want to start a club or teach a class, they can do that. And we’re going to bring the kids in from the shelters to do these things.”
He hopes such a center will serve as a resource for young people of all backgrounds to experience things they never had before and show that anything is possible, regardless of age.
“I think it’s really important for kids to lead, make something of their own,” he said. “Start small … every little thing counts.”