The debut of Saffron Strand, Inc. services for the homeless took place at Project Homeless Connect 4 (PHC4), organized by Contra Costa County health services, and held on June 17th at the Civic Center in Richmond.
We recruited 12 volunteers who are owners and employees of local small businesses in the personal care and wellness industry. These volunteers included Saffron Strand Board Members and Advisors who operate businesses such as salons, spas, and barber shops. We arranged for our volunteers to provide their best professional services to West County homeless persons at PHC4 free of charge.
Saffron Strand provided hair cuts, manicures, pedicures, and massages continuously for a period of 6 hours (9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), serving more than 100 persons. The stage area of the auditorium, where Saffron Strand volunteers worked, was the busiest and most popular area.
Many wonder whether there can be any “new solutions” to homelessness. As Contra Costa County’s 10-year plan to end homelessness stated in 2004, there are nearly 100 housing and service programs of all types to help the homeless in Contra Costa County. In view of all the current government and private homeless service offerings, wouldn’t any additional effort be redundant, amounting to a waste of time and resources? How could another non-profit offer anything new?
However, in its debut in the Richmond Civic Center at PHC4, Saffron Strand proved there are new solutions. We offered valuable personal services not specifically designed for homeless people. We improved their wellness, dignity, and self-esteem on the spot and gave them objective affirmation from others of their value and attractiveness as individuals. These objective results immediately improved their work-ready capability and employability.
As homeless persons at PHC4 told us, Saffron Strand’s new solutions for the homeless were urgently needed in Contra Costa County. They told us that Saffron Strand services were not redundant to other services offered at PHC4 now or available at large in the county. Most encouraging was the indication that homeless people who attended PHC4 were willing to work without pay to learn job and social skills. This approach is unique to Saffron Strand: Voluntary unpaid work of homeless members in support of the organization in order to improve their employability outside the organization.