Saffron Strand’s Wine Tasting & Silent Auction

Supporting a Unique New Approach

for Reducing Homelessness and Poverty

in Albuquerque

Concerned citizens and community leaders came together October 27, 2019 to support a unique new approach for reducing homelessness and poverty in Albuquerque.

Saffron Strand organized the 2019 Wine Tasting & Silent Auction to raise funds for opening the Saffron Strand Training Center in Albuquerque. The Center is going to help the city’s homeless and poorest residents gain skills needed in the local economy so they can get back to work in jobs that build careers.

Our venue was the Grand Hall at National Hispanic Cultural Center, which helped to sponsor this enjoyable and inspiring fundraising event.


Fundraising continues, so your secure, tax-deductible donation will help us start up the Training Center in Albuquerque. Please contact Saffron Strand for more information: 

In addition to delicious wine, our guests at the Wine Tasting & Silent Auction enjoyed:

  • Scrumptious hors d’oeuvres and tapas from Saffron Strand’s “pop-up kitchen,” which was one of the secrets to our decade of success getting the homeless off the streets and back to work in the Bay Area of California
  • Albuquerque’s Le Chat Lunatique, who brought their unique Burque jazz style that crosses many genres, blending Western swing, classical, reggae, doo-wop, and more

Also, three dynamic community leaders spoke, focusing on key issues related to homelessness and poverty in the upcoming electoral ballot initiatives:

Debbie O’Malley, Bernalillo County Commissioner

For 30 years, Debbie O’Malley, has fought for good jobs, mental health and substance abuse services, and affordable housing for Albuquerque’s families and workers. As Bernalillo County Commissioner for District 1, she sponsored the County’s Tiny Home Village Project, noting that homelessness was a growing problem in Bernalillo County: “The Tiny Home Village will provide a safe and secure housing opportunity for those individuals in need. This project will also help to stabilize and positively impact the neighborhood in which it resides.” Now serving her second term, she has continued to push for more safe and secure housing for the chronically homeless. She has pointed out that when those who receive housing also have the skills for rewarding employment, then their exit from homelessness is much more likely to succeed.

Ilse Biel, Activist and Advocate for the Homeless

In 2014 and 2015, Ilse Biel worked alongside the residents of Tent City who refused to disperse from the unsanctioned encampment, which managed to sustain itself for almost a year in various locations and under abject conditions with few resources. However, the camp and the intense media and neighborhood attention it elicited redirected the discourse on Albuquerque people experiencing housing instability. Ilse has noted that the Housing First approach “skews expectations and aspirations towards a particular mode of dwelling while excluding—and, in fact, demeaning and/or criminalizing—more realistically achievable forms of homes.” A member of the Tiny Home Village Project, Ilse has characterized Housing First as “a call to Stability First” and asked, “What could such a reinterpretation of the model look like and mean within the Albuquerque landscape?”

Rev. Amani Malaika, Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living

Rev. Amani Malaika’s fascination with spiritual traditions, the soul, and life’s mysteries has been life long. In her own seeking and studies she has become a true believer in the divine nature of all human beings. As the Senior Minister of Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living she is able to serve any who seek to know the magnificence that they are. She invites each person to join in transforming their individual life and the world around us: “”We are a spiritual community committed to spiritual inspiration, education, and practices that lead to transformed lives and communities…. We hold a vision for a world that works for everyone.”

Albuquerque absolutely needs the Saffron Strand Training Center. More than 95,000 city residents (17%) have income below the official poverty level. More than 44,000 (8%) get by on income that is only 50% of the poverty level (

It’s not surprising that thousands are homeless sometime during the year and many thousands more are constantly at risk. Albuquerque’s poorest of the poor are desperate and vulnerable. They are often the victims of crime. They’re so desperate they sometimes perpetrate criminal acts themselves, which contributes to the city’s high crime rate.

We know that most homeless and at-risk persons want the dignity, respect, and trust that goes with legitimate, rewarding employment. But to succeed, they first must have the necessary “soft” skills and technical skills to achieve and sustain jobs that pay a living wage.

The Saffron Strand Training Center in Albuquerque will offer a totally new approach to empower employment of these vulnerable residents, providing pre-employment training and career staging with the help of local volunteers in a safe, professional office environment.

We achieved a decade of success through our Training Center and annual Homeless Workforce Conferences in the Bay Area of California. We improved the lives of hundreds of homeless people and those at risk by helping them get off the streets and back to work for the long term.


And special thanks to community members who have volunteered their skills or donated auction items:

  • Rev. Rebecca Allen
  • Patricia Chavez
  • Christa Keller
  • Laura Kuhn
  • Jayne Rinderer
  • Michael Rosenfield
  • Eleana Shair
  • Jenna Viscaya

Saffron Strand, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, now incorporated in New Mexico, that seeks to reduce homelessness and extreme poverty in Albuquerque.

Please help us start up the Training Center with your secure, tax-deductible donation to Saffron Strand, Inc., a unique 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Albuquerque.

For more information, please contact Saffron Strand, Inc.: or tel. (510) 691-7026