Saffron Strand builds the job skills and increases employment of homeless adults in Richmond and other West Contra Costa communities through one-on-one work with our members at the Saffron Strand Center. Also, we offer professional training and public education through our Annual Homeless Workforce Conference and provide fact-based advocacy through outreach and community engagement as through our annual Jesse Curtis Awards to Reduce Homelessness.
Saffron Strand enables its members—homeless adults in Contra Costa County–to seek individual solutions to their personal challenges so that they can improve their employability, find a good-paying job, and overcome homelessness. The Saffron Strand Center—currently under development—functions as their base during the workday. In exchange for membership, Saffron Strand requires that the members work a few hours per week in non-paying jobs which maintain and operate the Saffron Strand Center.
Free membership in Saffron Strand includes:
● Personal wellness and self care: Saffron Strand enables every member to meet personal wellness and self-care needs, which aid self-esteem and confidence in social and work environments. Members can shower, do laundry, change into work and office clothing, prepare for the work day, learn how to plan, prepare, and cook nutritious and economical meals, and improve their overall wellness and self-care. Members may keep personal belongings in secure locker storage.
● Job and social skills training: Members of Saffron Strand learn vocational and work-related social skills, working side-by-side with professional staff to manage the day-to-day operation of the Center. Training covers work in every part of the Center, including the kitchen, reception area, library, computer/communications room, administrative office, workshop, and garden. The Center also may serve as a small business incubator for people with entrepreneurial talents.
● Stages of gainful employment: Training of members means first meeting the job requirements of operating the Center. Training progresses to stages of gainful employment, including transitional and supported employment contracted by Saffron Strand in the community at large. Saffron Strand volunteers work with members, mentoring for good job performance and substituting for members when they are unable to work. Local employers can rely on Saffron Strand members and volunteers to meet their employment needs.
● Creative work: Members can express themselves through creative work, including writing, blogging, art, music, and crafts.
● Case management: Every Saffron Strand member benefits from “wrap-around” case management by professional staff who oversee individual health, social, and vocational needs, assuring that necessary services are obtained. Case management extends to personal budget advice, housing assistance, employment assistance, and help with higher education. Members can optimize access to any health and human services that they may receive outside Saffron Strand.
● Program evaluation and application of practice to research: On a quarterly basis, members evaluate and report on the relevance and responsiveness of the program to their individual challenges. Annually, Saffron Strand staff provide practice-to-research data and analysis in order to make changes in the program and inform our advocacy.
● Education and collaboration: Saffron Strand’s experience and analysis of pragmatic solutions provides a strong base from which we can provide a range of information to inform policy decisions intended to reduce homelessness. We collaborate with county and municipal agencies, healthcare service providers, local businesses, and all community and faith-based groups working with homeless people.
Professional Training and Public Education
Each year, Saffron Strand organizes the national Homeless Workforce Conference to meet the urgent need for new thinking, collaborative approaches, and specialized professional training to help the homeless and others at risk of homelessness to re-enter the workforce for the long term.
Our employment-focused, annual educational event is unique in bringing together leaders in health care, housing, and employment to focus on increasing self-sufficiency among the homeless. Nationally recognized authorities and experts throughout the Bay Area come to Richmond. Conference participants come from every discipline and type of organization: Public agencies, non-profits, faith-based groups, private charities and foundations. By listening, learning, and networking, they discover they share many of the same challenges. They also discover they can collaborate in new ways to reduce duplication of effort and coordinate individual program strengths for greater effect.
As many as 45 non-profits have participated in the event, which has been supported by up to 15 sponsoring organizations, including the City of Richmond as well as the Mayor’s Office of the City of Richmond, the West County Mayors and Supervisors Association, and the Contra Costa County Mayors Conference along with leading corporations, small businesses, and non-profit organizations seeking to reduce homelessness.
Advocacy to Help the Homeless Get Back to Work
Through the work of the Saffron Strand Center and the Annual Conference and other Saffron Strand events, we can reach out to Richmond and communities throughout the Bay Area with an informed, compassionate advocacy. Annual events include the Vigil for the Homeless and the Annual Awards for Reducing Homelessness which include an awards ceremony during the Advocacy Luncheon at the Annual Conference.
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