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Brotherly Love: Designing Homes For The Homeless

By Ukee Washington

BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) -- A Bucks County interior designer now does her job without a paycheck. She uses her talents to make homes for the homeless.

Beth Baker and her team at Deserving Decor have never met a mess they couldn't clean.

"I wouldn't feel good moving into an apartment that's dirty," said Baker.

She and her team are cleaning a Lower Bucks apartment for people who are leaving homeless and domestic abuse shelters. Baker used to be an interior designer. A few years ago, she offered her services for free to homeless shelters and discovered her passion.

"When you're a victim of domestic violence or you're homeless for another reason and you're moving into a new place, I think it makes a big, big difference, your surroundings," said Baker.

Now, she heads Deserving Decor. On the first day, her volunteers dump old appliances, vacuum, and get ready to redecorate. The second day brings the transformation, all done with donated furnishings and supplies.

"In the bedroom, we have black and white bedding and black and white artwork, and there's a little vase of pink flowers for a pop of color," Baker described.

The bathroom gets a new shower curtain, rugs and towels. The living room gets a new TV stand, a spruced-up dining area--even two donated wing chairs. Baker also chose donated art to add color to the white walls.

She has helped redecorate more than 60 apartments. Residents are elated to move in, says Melissa Mantz, a development officer of the non-profit Bucks County Housing Group.

"They walk in and they go, 'Wow, this doesn't look like a homeless shelter. This looks like someone's house!'" Mantz said.

Volunteer Donna Strickler said, "We're making a home for those people that are homeless."

It's a fresh place for a fresh start.

Deserving Decor is looking for donations of small home goods (such as lamps, large colorful artwork, etc.), as well as large warehouse space, gas money, and volunteers. They especially need people strong enough to help move furniture!

As of March 2012, Deserving Decor is unable to accept large furniture such as sofas, loveseats, upholstered chairs, dressers, chests of drawers, and tables due to space limitations, but they hope someone will donate large warehouse space so they can again accept large goods.

For more information on Deserving Decor, visit the website.

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