Over the last four years of the the last four years of running the Humanity Clothing and Hygiene bank we've learned a lot. We've also had to adapt as not only things have changed here in the Denver Metro area but the world. Here's a breakdown of how we reached the fundraising goal, the many improvements we're wanting to make and why.
1. Double the size of the store from 1400 sqft to 3000 sqft - One of the things we've been constantly reminded of is that the building we were previously in was two small. We literally utilized every inch of that space and sometimes we would completely reorganize the entire space temporarily to get more out of it. For example during our Shear Impact and Thanksgiving Day events. In order to make them possible we would have to completely remove all of the clothing, racks, shelves, and displays out of the front of the store so that we could bring in hair cutting stations or tables to feed at. While this presented a number of challenges it was always worth the effort to see people being treated in a more humane way. Because, of the size of the space we were always limited to only be able to offer adult clothing, having to refer parents to other organizations and our professional section had to remain small. It wasn't just the size of the front of the store that was limiting as well. The storeroom was often overcrowded and many times staff would receive and sort donations on tables in our rear parking lot. Again we made it work because we know how much our services mean to the community but we need a bigger space so that these things can be improved
ADDITIONAL COST - $78,000 per year, plus a one time cost of building out the space of $30,000
Computer lab and Class room for skill and job training - Early on when the store was launched we had a small computer lab but because of the size of the store and the number of people we serve daily (125-150) the computer lab was eventually removed with the goal to launch another location that not only had a larger computer lab (going from 4 computers to 12) but also had a space for guidance counselors to meet with clients, and a class room for employment and skills training classes. This would also double as a AA and NA meeting space. With the reopening rather than having two buildings we're combining the clothing and hygiene bank with the resource center and implementing these ideas in the additional space of the new building.
ADDITIONAL COST - $20,000
Additional Staff, Increased hours and Pay - Impact throughout the years has by and large been staffed by volunteers. We've done this to keep administrative costs down and to always put more money into the programs and the people we serve. One of the things we realized after the first year though of the store being open is that we had to hire a paid staff because volunteer numbers during the week days was to inconsistent and on many occasions the store had to be shut down due for the day to a lack of help. After the first year we knew that at a minimum it required five people for things to properly function. The last two years though however a number of things have changed. Prior to Covid-19 we were able to pay our employees above market rates which attracted potential hirees even though the positions we offered were only part time. However in the last eighteen months we've seen pay rates increase and with still being part time attracting and hiring staff became increasingly difficult. What we're hoping to do is be able to not only increase employee wages by $3 an hour but also have all positions go from part time to full time. Not only will this allow us to be more appealing to people looking for work but it will also allow us to increase the number of days the stores open from three to seven. Which means there will be a substantial increase in the number of people we're able to serve in the community. Lastly with the additional size of the new space and the addition of new resource areas we will create three additional positions. So that in total the store would now have a Manager, Assistant Manager, Donation Coordinator, Resource Councilor, and four store clerks.
ADDITIONAL COST - $220,800 per year
Hair cut stations - Over the years of hosting our Shear Impact program at the store once a month we realized not only how needed and important this program was to the community but also how hard it was to recruit volunteers for these events. Many times we struggled to have enough volunteers because on the day of the events we will literally have a line around the block, often times doing an average of 150 haircuts in a day. With the increased space what we're going to do is rather than having to remove all of the clothing out of the entire store to be able to bring in six barber stations and only cutting hair one day a month we're going to have two stations permanently located in the store so that barbers and stylists can volunteer their time any day that they're available and allowing haircuts to be offered throughout the month on multiple days.
COST - Because we already have the stations and because this is volunteer based there's no additional cost
Cafe Food Kiosk - One the things 2020 saw was the addition of our community fridges and the expansion of our food program. When the state shut down and so many organizations either suspended services our went out of business we suddenly saw the need for our Sack Lunch program become greater than it ever was. To give you an idea of what this looked like, we went from being one of about 30 organizations passing out food to one of 3. We went from serving 1,500 meals a month to serving that weekly with 1/10 of the volunteers. Creatively we started allowing volunteers to make lunches off site and drop them off throughout the month. What this taught us was that we could consistently provide meals to those in need and use the Humanity store as a distribution site rather than needing dozens of volunteers to go out into the community to hand lunches out. With that in mind though we've realized we want and need to do better. If we're going to provide meals daily we need to approach those meals in the same way the store addresses distribution of clothing. We need to give people choice, add healthier options and do things in a humane way. This birthed the idea for a cafe food kiosk. Volunteers will still assemble sandwiches off site and donate food items but rather than handing someone a lunch where we've decided what they will eat we'll allow them to pick items from the kiosk and create there own lunch.
ADDITIONAL COST - $10,000 to purchase the kiosk and additional fridges
Expansion to carry kids clothing and Dedicated professional wear section - As we've previously mentioned one of the things we've struggled with over the years was the lack of space and how that caused us to have to eliminate or reduce the services we provided. Two of those things being the lack of a child section and the small amount of space we were able to dedicate to professional clothing. With the additional space and with incorporating our counselling program we want to make both of these things possible. This way parents coming from homeless shelters will no longer be forced to go to multiple organizations and men and women looking for jobs will not only have the ability to get interview clothing but also the ability to get clothing specific to job needs.
ADDITONAL COST - $2,500 to purchase additional display racks and shelves
Laundry Services - When you're homeless one of the hardest things you deal with is access to consistent laundry services, if you're able to access them at all. With the increased space we're hoping to add 3 additional washers and dryers so that clients have the ability to launder their clothing.
ADDITIONAL COST - To purchase the washers and dryers we've estimated $5,000 but we've also estimated that the additional water and electric utility cost will $23,000 per year
We realize that the amount of what we're trying to raise via our fundraiser is much less than the total amount we've listed here. Fortunately local businesses and donors have already pledge the balance which if raised will allows us to reach our goals and create a totally new environment and offer services to clients in a way that Denver has never seen! As always we thank you for your support and for Denver's amazing heart to helping those in need!