The Uffizi Order has been working with the unsheltered homeless population since 2005 when we started our first meal sharing with Friends without Homes at Pershing Park. Since that time, we helped create Common Ground Santa Barbara and initiated the first use of the Vulnerability Index in the county and have learned from local partners best practices to solve homelessness.
We are now situated in partnership with Westmont to bring few dramatic changes to our meal sharing with Friends without Homes at Alameda Park on Thursday nights. Uffizi currently serves to bring together the 13 partners who collaborate at the meal sharing as well as helping coach and debrief the twenty or so Westmont students that come to the park every night. In 2017 we hope to increase our ability to do healthy “reunifications” and partner with Because of Hope to initiate some work around “empowerment” for our Friends without Homes.
Healthy reunifications consist of assisting those who are currently on the streets with a better, more stable opportunity to exit homelessness. This usually occurs when we can connect him or her with a family member, organization, or employment opportunity outside of Santa Barbara County. We make sure it is a healthy and supportive situation then raise the funds for the trip. The picture above is of a reunification which just occurred on January 1, 2017. Several churches in combination with Westmont’s Bread of Life raised the funds to help this young man return to his hometown where he has housing and an employment opportunity.
We are also exited to partner with Natalie Lemonnier and Because of Hope to move toward empowerment at Alameda Park. She will be helping us consider how to raise some friends who are experiencing homelessness into leadership at our meal sharing. We do not know what this looks like at this point, but we will be having trainings this year to move forward with a plan at the park! You can see Because of Hope here - https://becauseofhope.org/ourwork. They are currently doing fantastic sustainable work in Uganda with local widows and orphans.
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