How Revivals is prioritizing people experiencing homelessness
When Revivals and DAP Health decided to partner with Martha’s Village and Kitchen to provide clothing and supplies to people experiencing homelessness, they knew there was a need.
But the demand caught them by surprise.
The 2020 Riverside County Point-In-Time count suggests there were close to 200 unsheltered individuals in Palm Springs, but advocates for people experiencing homelessness say the true numbers might be double or triple that number.
Martha’s Village and Kitchen is one of the largest providers of homelessness and impoverished services in Riverside County with over 8,000 people in need passing through its doors yearly.
Over the summer, Indio-based Martha’s Village opened The Palm Springs Access Center, providing wraparound services for people experiencing homelessness. These services include helping individuals obtain permanent and supportive housing, health, disability, Social Security, and other benefits, along with computer training, and assistance filling out job applications.
Dane Koch, the director of retail, says it was an easy decision to partner with Martha’s Village. Revivals is part of DAP Health, an advocacy-based healthcare organization committed to removing roadblocks to human potential.
Homelessness leads to increased feelings of uncertainty, vulnerability, and isolation. Homeless people experience great physical and mental stress. Many homeless people do not have access to medicine or regular physical or mental health care treatment. They tend to be hospitalized more often than people with homes.
DAP Health believes that housing is healthcare and through a partnership with Coachella Valley Housing Coalition is breaking ground to begin construction of the 61-unit special needs affordable housing development known as Vista Sunrise II. The Vista Sunrise II development will be constructed on the DAP Health campus at Sunrise and Vista Chino in Palm Springs. This new development consists of studios and one-bedroom units for individuals and families who experience chronical illnesses, physical or mental disabilities, or those who are homeless.
Martha’s Village provides vouchers for Revivals to its clients, who then come into a Revivals store to pick up necessities and clothing. Parents can shop at the store with their children enjoying the same retail experience as every other shopper in the store. A client can have up to four vouchers each year.
Kris Fisher, the senior store coordinator at the Revivals in Palm Springs, says Revivals anticipated 15 clients per week. Instead, it was 50.
“The response has been pretty overwhelming. I don’t think we expected to get the number of clients that we did,” Fisher says. “But I’m glad the program is being utilized and that we can be a resource.”
George Sinatra, the senior director of development for Martha’s Village and Kitchen, shared two stories that illustrate the impact of this partnership.
An elderly woman who had eye surgery needed protective eyewear.
She came to Martha’s Village wearing disposable sunglasses. “We were able to get new sunglasses to her at Revivals that day,” Sinatra says. “That was super helpful.”
Sinatra remembers a family of four who was living out of a car. They had come into Palm Springs looking for help.
“They had one bag of clothing between the four of them that included undergarments and everything,” Sinatra explains
The family came into Palm Springs, where they were able to get a shower and receive clothing from Revivals for the mother, father, and two young children under six. Then they were moved to Martha’s Indio location.
“They are doing amazing and have been successful here going through Martha’s programs. They’re getting ready to get employment locally and then they’ll be able to move into their own home as a family.”
Koch says he is proud to be part of the new program. “People talk about the problem of homelessness a lot, but we see people, not problems. It’s important to prioritize people experiencing homelessness and it just makes you feel good about coming to work every day, knowing you are making a difference.”