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On May 3, 2016 the Richmond City Council voted unanimously to research the feasibility of developing tiny houses for the city’s homeless. Councilmember Jovanka Beckles and Saffron Strand CEO Yvonne Nair were quoted in a local news report.

This news report ties in with Saffron Strand’s 7th Annual Homeless Workforce Conference — “Working with the Homeless: How to Survive & Thrive in the Trenches” — which takes place June 13-14 at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium.

Gregory Kloehn — an Oakland artist who builds “homeless homes” — is the recipient of the Jesse Curtis Homelessness Achievement Award to be presented at the Conference’s Advocacy Luncheon, Tuesday, June 14. Mr. Kloehn also is presenting a Conference workshop. He has an artistic, “asymmetrical approach” applied to thrown-away objects to create tiny, unique, portable houses for the homeless.

Richmond is a leader among Bay Area communities in creative responses to help vulnerable populations. Saffron Strand’s 2016 Conference goes beyond homelessness to benefit everyone coming into contact with poor and vulnerable people.

One of the Conference keynote speakers — Patricia Falotico, who leads the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership in Atlanta — inspires and refreshes the commitment of communities to their most vulnerable. Servant leadership is a natural and effective form of leadership for all organizations working with vulnerable populations, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, and even for-profit businesses. Many Fortune 500 companies use the servant leadership model. It enriches the lives of both those who need help and those who want to help. It builds better organizations, helps sustain profitable business, and ultimately creates more just and caring communities.

Another keynote speaker — Matt Bennett from the Coldspring Center in Denver — offers insights that will help anyone who works directly with vulnerable people, including health care and social service providers and many public employees. These “front line” workers suffer compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and other problems. But with proper training they can recover to become even more effective and productive.

Another Conference workshop zeroes in on workplace bullying — “What It Is and What to Do About It” — which is a significant health hazard and a high-risk conduct problem in many organizations, including municipal governments. Workplace bullying generates unnecessary expenditures of human and financial resources and creates exposure to liability. Richmond recently settled out of court with a City employee for $104,000. These issues relate to California’s AB2053 and Richmond’s General Order No. 33. The Conference offers a unique opportunity to learn about abusive, counter-productive behavior in organizations and how to prevent it.

Working with vulnerable people is a high-stress vocation for professionals and is extraordinarily demanding for volunteers. Participants in the 2016 Conference can benefit from other workshops that provide training in a variety of self-healing and group-healing skills. Preview the program here.






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