|Shamayim “Mama Shu” Harris||. Photo: ECLECTION MEDIA|
Shamayim Harris wasn’t sure she’d survive after her 2-year-old son Jakobi was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2007. “I remember waking up the next morning, thinking, ‘I’m living through this pain that I thought would kill me. I’m not afraid of anything anymore,’ ” says Harris, 51, of Highland Park, Michigan.
Six months after her son’s death, the single mother of three channeled her grief into action, embarking on her dream of transforming a half-abandoned nearby block into a sustainable eco-village. “I saw this blighted block every day on my way to work, and I wanted to do something with it.”
The first step was a winning $3,000 bid on a vacant home on Avalon Street. With help from a friend, and money she’d pieced together from her paycheck and a tax refund, the former school administrator bought the house and moved in. She then set up a nonprofit, The Moon Ministry, started receiving donations (via a successful Kickstarter that has since reached over $240,000) and the real work began. Harris and a group of volunteers removed mattresses, toilets, liquor bottles — even an abandoned boat — from the neighborhood. “It took a while to get to green grass,” she says.
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