Whats happening now: Streets of Paradise

We say it all the time, “We live in Paradise.” And for the most part, it’s true. Great weather with far more sunny days than rain and an average temperature of the ideal 73 degrees and over 35 miles of beaches—how better can we describe paradise?? But for a small segment of our population here in Sarasota, they enjoy not paradise itself, but the streets of our paradise. We are talking about Sarasota’s homeless.

The county has been working hand-in-hand with area non-profits to tackle home- and food-insecurity, binding together many different organizations’ efforts to move forward the common goal of taking care of our people and our community. I recently got involved with Streets of Paradise, one of the many nonprofits tackling a portion of this important issue. I met with the organization’s head of donor relations, Cathy Bryant, a couple weeks ago and was shocked to find out the amazing work being done by this small non-profit.

What is Streets of Paradise?

A part of the Continuum of Care program, Streets of Paradise was formed only a few short years ago as a food share program. Basically, think of it as a neighborhood potluck for those in need. The food share gained notoriety for the small organization, which was then approached by the county to see if they could help in one other major way: housing. While this was originally out of their scope, “The data spoke for itself,” according to Cathy Bryant. That data: Individuals who move into a furnished home are 87% less likely to EVER re-enter the cycle of homelessness. “With that data,” she said, “it was impossible for us not to help.” While Streets of Paradise retains food sharing programs and other needs-facilitating, it was this program that caught our attention at Couture.

A Tailored Approach to Collaboration

The re-homing program at Streets of Paradise gathers gently-used furniture, home goods, and basic necessities — including pickup, mind you! — and brings them directly to a recently-homed consumer. This way, the individual who was just able to leave the streets for a home moves in with enough glasses and dishes to share food and water with their friends, a couch and a bed for comfort, and even artwork & rugs to make the place feel like home (making them a staggering 87% less likely to ever be homeless again! I mean that statistic is so incredible it’s worth mentioning twice).

At Couture, we are long-standing believers in the power of staging. Staging a home increases the likelihood of purchase because people are able to see themselves in the space, and see how the space can work for them. So we’ve decided to help Streets of Paradise by volunteering our staging services. Couturiers will assist Streets of Paradise to gather items for residences from their warehouse of inventory and then assist in providing on-site set-up (if that’s okay with the client, of course) like hanging mirrors or placing furniture. If you are interested in working with us on a Saturday, comment below; we’d love to have your help in making our world more beautiful for everyone!

How You Can Help

While talking with Cathy, she shared with us that they have two major needs now: they need a truck to assist in moving items for re-housing (right now they rent a U-Haul each time they do a move, creating ongoing extra expenses of about $400-500 per move day), and they need a mobile shower unit that they can bring to their food shares. An interesting thing I learned from having a sister who worked at the food bank for a long time is many times the space between a homeless person and an employed person on their way to saving for a home is a shower — they need to be cleaned up in order to go in and apply for that job. Mobile shower units are one way they are able to do just that.

In short, Streets of Paradise need funds. If this sounds like a cause you would be interested in helping, you can find out more about them here. We at Couture also started a GoFundMe to help them purchase the truck they so desparately need, a goal we hope to help them accomplish by contributing ourselves and raising awareness so others can do the same. If you can help in any way, please click here to donate via our GoFundMe.

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