By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
This month Oklahoma City residents can purchase flowers for their loved ones this Valentine’s Day while also supporting people who are working their way out of homelessness.
The Curbside Chronicle has teamed with The Plant Shoppe to create Valentine’s Day bouquets that will be sold to the public from February 10-14 by vendors who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.
Street papers like Curbside enable people to earn enough money to get into housing and end their homelessness.
Small bouquets will be sold for $10 and large bouquets will be sold for $35.
Individuals wearing green Curbside Chronicle vests will sell the small bouquets on sidewalks, in public spaces and at intersections throughout Oklahoma City.
One hundred percent of proceeds will go to support the employment and empowerment of people experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma City.
In addition, The Curbside Chronicle will have two pop-up booths, one located in The 16th Street Plaza District (between Classen and Penn) and one located in front of Leadership Square (211 N. Robinson) in downtown Oklahoma City. All proceeds from booth purchases will be split between the vendor working the booth and The Curbside Chronicle to support its mission of employing and empowering men and women transitioning out of homelessness in Oklahoma City.
The Curbside Chronicle is a program of The Homeless Alliance. It is the state’s first and only “street paper” created to provide a source of income, a voice and employment opportunities for people who are homeless.
“These flowers are both a symbol of love to your significant other, and can also demonstrate that you care about people in our community who are without a home,” said Ranya O’Connor, director of The Curbside Chronicle. “You can make your gifts extra special this Valentine’s Day by giving the gift of empowerment to someone in Oklahoma City who is working to make their situation better.”
In 2013, Ranya and her husband Whitley founded the Curbside Chronicle. The couple voluntarily ran Curbside until July 2015 when the paper’s growth allowed Ranya to become its first employee. She is the publisher and also serves as a case manager for the homeless vendors, training and empowering them to obtain housing, while advocating on their behalf.
The campaign is being made possible thanks to the generosity of sponsors including Fowler Automotive, Life Squire, Keep it Local OK and Downtown OKC, Inc.
This is the second year for The Curbside Chronicle to offer flowers on Valentine’s Day. In 2016, the campaign was limited to only a few vendors. Because of positive feedback from the community, the campaign has expanded this year.
“In addition to providing a source of income, the Curbside Chronicle works with their vendors to break down barriers to traditional employment and develop time management, money management and social skills,” said Kinsey Crocker, Director of Communications at The Homeless Alliance.