Part 4 Angels Amongst Us
Sometimes the angel does not show up in the form of a beauty professional. Sometimes the powerful sheroes and heroes in the beauty industry show up first as a med student, then awaken to their cause as community organizers who realize the importance of grooming services for those in need.
Briana is a young, dynamic force with brilliant ideas. Her energy is contagious, and there is nothing stopping her from creating her many dreams. Her state of Florida ranks 3rd out of 5 states that contribute to nearly half of the nation’s homeless population. She saw the increasing number of people in need and asked herself, how can I help?
Briana’s father served in the Navy for 23 years, which was very inspiring to her. Her mother runs a daycare center and would impart her wisdom to the new or single parents that were struggling with issues that she had also experienced.
“This is the roof that I’ve grown up under. Watching the care and effort and planning that my parents did was truly inspiring. When I shared with them my vision for Street Team Movement they were completely supportive.”
STREET TEAM MOVEMENT
From the outside looking in, it is easy to assume we know the issues this marginalized part of the population are dealing with, but Briana felt she needed to find out for herself. She did the unthinkable and became homeless for four weeks, in two week intervals. She asked questions and found out for herself what the needs might be. She found out housing was fourth on the list, not first, like you might assume.
She realized they needed very basic things, like hygiene items such as soap, chapstick, sunscreen, toothbrushes, feminine products, socks, shoes, backpacks. Washing their clothes and themselves ranked high on the list as well. With this knowledge she came up with the idea for providing a laundromat for the homeless to wash their clothes. She partnered with Thornton Park Coin Laundry and twice a week they served on average 212 people, or about 424 loads of laundry. This project started in 2014 and is still going strong.
Finding a location to host her laundry program proved to be a challenge. Her organization went through 3 local options until they settled on the present location at Thornton Park Coin Laundry. This laundromat happens to be in an upscale neighborhood where the neighbors were less than thrilled about her idea. In fact, they didn’t want it. But she didn’t let this stop her. She promised it would be run well, and also respectfully toward everyone in the community.
It didn’t take long for the project to take off. People wanted to get involved. One woman said, “I can’t give you money, but I can give you laundry soap,” which she continues to do. As Briana says, “I hate fundraising!” So instead of reinventing the wheel she generally tries to partner with other organizations or people who are offering services to the homeless community.
Upon starting Street Team Movement, Briana wore a multitude of hats: from CEO to lead volunteer, appointment setter, admin, president of the board, newsletter writer, social media manager, donation courier, volunteer recruiter, community partner finder – you name it. Since then, she has delegated a lot of these things to other people. The organization has an amazing full board of directors, consisting of a director of volunteer services, three individuals managing social media, and two people who are responsible for writing pieces and sending the newsletter. They are still building teams for fundraising, networking, and public relations. Briana is very excited to watch the growth of the back-end team, which makes for an even stronger front-end team.
Briana started with delivering 200 hygiene kits, and in time that turned into thousands. This journey is not without hiccups along the way. She had to let go of her first board and find a new one, because their vision was not growing with hers. It was also challenging to get the homeless community to embrace the “appointments” system. In their experiences of dealing with lax organizational structure, many of her clients were used to a “free for all” type of service. Her team is designed to be very organized and buttoned up. Of course there was push back from their clients, many of whom were not used to being structured enough to make an appointment, let alone keep it.
Check out The Street Team Movement programs:
Fresh – offering showers, to be launched in 2018.
New – laundry services by appointment.
Mediate – remedial aid is crucial to those living on the street. Chapstick, sunscreen, shoes, socks etc.
Mind – builds relationships with mental health firms in the community, to help those suffering from mental illness.
If you are in the area and want to volunteer, click here.
ADVICE FOR BEAUTY PROFESSIONALS
“Be informed! Know the individuals that you are serving. What is the best day to cut hair? Will it be one time, or regularly? What’s the best time for the clients (early AM, late night?) – many have a systematic schedule that’s followed, based on other services provided. Who can you partner your service with to be more accommodating? For instance, is there a group that comes out and only serves food? Partner with them and provide an additional service to their current client base. Be informed.”
Briana’s heart is gold! Let her story be an inspiration to get out in your own community and serve.
Make a list of what matters to you, what causes interest you and go out and start talking to people.
Check out Briana’s video.