OKLAHOMA CITY – A flower shop that will employ people transitioning out of homelessness is set to open this fall in Oklahoma City and is turning to the public for help.
The Curbside Chronicle, a program of the Homeless Alliance, provides both a voice and employment opportunities to people who are experiencing homelessness through the sale of its local magazine. In recent years, the program has expanded its product line to include local artist-designed wrapping paper and flower bouquets.
“The community showed our small floral campaigns so much love, that we decided to embark on a brick-and-mortar, full-service flower shop,” said Ranya Forgotson, director of the Curbside Chronicle program.
The Homeless Alliance was presented with a seed grant from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to help start the flower shop. Now, the organization is seeking money from the public for a floral delivery van.
“A delivery vehicle is vital to the success of a flower shop, and we want to do everything we can to set our vendors up for success,” said Forgotson. “Right now, we do not have the budget to purchase one.”
Several fundraisers to benefit Curbside Flowers were canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. A GoFundMe page has been created with the goal of raising $35,000.
The Curbside Chronicle magazine provides low-barrier employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. Magazine vendors learn time, money management and social skills and are paired with case managers to work on goals, starting with housing.
Now, Curbside Flowers will allow the organization to employ people ready to transition into a more traditional work environment. Each vendor will earn a college certificate in retail floral design through a partnership with Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City and will be trained in the Curbside Flowers retail shop, helping participants build job skills, gain work experience and grow in self-confidence.
The first class of vendors are set to graduate from OSU-OKC in the coming week just ahead of the flower shop’s fall opening.
Curbside Flowers will be at 522 N. Classen Blvd.
In addition to Curbside Chronicle and Curbside Flowers, the Homeless Alliance also operates Sasquatch Shaved Ice, a nonprofit snow cone stand that provides supportive employment opportunities to youth who formerly have been involved in the foster care system or who are at-risk of homelessness.
“Businesses and nonprofits each have a place in this world,” said Forgotson. “But organizations that combine the two and use businesses practices to improve their community have always inspired me. Oklahoma City is such an amazing community, and the people here have been so supportive. We are excited to open the flower shop, and can’t wait to see how the community lifts up our employees.”
The Curbside Flowers GoFundMe page is available at www.gofundme.com/f/help-curbside-flowers-buy-a-delivery-van.
The organization says that any money raised beyond its initial goal will help with the completion of the flower shop, purchasing equipment and supplies and providing wages to vendors.