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On Wednesday, April 3, 2013 Saffron Strand presented an evening buffet and forum on “Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Unemployment: How we help people find good jobs and keep them.”

More than 50 attended the Community Resources Forum at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center (1021 Macdonald Ave., Richmond). Thanks so much to Richmond Progressive Alliance for inviting Saffron Strand to present this Forum!

Volunteers welcomed everyone with a delicious buffet supper which included Green Magic Chicken (roast chicken with a secret sauce some could not help but enjoy on its own!), a super salad, and more. Thanks so much for this home-cooked-but-exotic meal, organized and prepared by RPA and Saffron Strand volunteers. As Saffron Strand homeless members and friends of Saffron Strand already knew, good food and welcoming hospitality make a wonderful catalyst for learning, networking, and advocacy.

The Forum began with an introduction by Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, recounting the humble, grassroots start-up of Saffron Strand, Inc. in Richmond just over four years ago and concluding with the Richmond City Council resolution endorsing and supporting Saffron Strand’s Fourth Annual Conference coming up June 17-18.

Then we outlined the Saffron Strand Model — how we:

  • Engage the “hard-to-employ” homeless of Richmond and other West Contra Costa communities as members of Saffron Strand
  • Create our “intentional community” dedicated to getting all members back to work
  • Build members’ job skills and work-related social skills while overcoming their most critical barriers to employment
  • Empower our members – and the chronically unemployed at risk of homelessness – to find good jobs, jobs they like that become steps on a career ladder

Two homeless members of Saffron Strand then offered “testimony” on how they have used Saffron Strand services to overcome their personal barriers to employment, build their skills, and improve their employability.

Some attended the Forum thinking to stay only a short time. But they found themselves engaged in the challenges and opportunities to help Richmond’s homeless get back to work in the private sector, rebuild their lives, and renew our communities. They stayed til the program’s end and beyond. Thanks to all who attended for your vision and support!

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