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Flagler student creates connections within homeless community

Nov 20, 2018

by Jayda Barnes, '20

Autumn Stanish, ’19, has taken on several projects to understand the circumstances of homelessness in St. Augustine. Stanish, an English major, began by writing a book for her honors program senior capstone project, which detailed anecdotal accounts of living in St. Augustine by members of the city’s homeless community. Under the working title, “Street People: Monologues from the Homeless of St. Augustine,” the book seeks to uncover Stanish’s questions on why homelessness is an issue in St. Augustine and why many people of the homeless community are drawn to St. Augustine as their city of residence.

With research in-hand, Stanish expanded her understanding of the homeless community to include a broader community in St. Augustine. By working with Enactus, an organization at Flagler which enables student entrepreneurs to undertake projects to improve the world, she was able to bring her work to the club where the contents of her research transformed into a program to help the homeless.  The result: “Thinking Outside of the Box,” a series of courses on how to start a business.

With the help of Ellen Walden from Home Again, an organization that assists St. Augustine’s homeless population, the project attracted help from local partners including St. Johns Volunteers, the St. Augustine Record, Betty Griffin Center, St. Francis House, the Homeless Coalition of St. Johns County and several others.

Every Tuesday since Oct. 9, Enactus has hosted new workshops on different elements of starting a business. The subjects include building a business, financial literacy, interview etiquette and more. With each week, attendance grows with more people interested in improving their business skills. The final class is scheduled for Nov. 20 and will feature a business and career fair.

“The goals of this class,” said Stanish, “Are to get people who have given up on their dreams a revitalized passion for either jumping back into the workforce or starting up their own businesses.”

But this course is only the beginning for both Stanish and Enactus. Stanish intends to self-publish her book while looking into traditional publishing options. Enactus plans to take the information they have gathered on profiles and archetypes of homelessness and share them with other communities.

Their goal is to continue growing and maintaining the networks and connections established with this project. As for St. Augustine, even Mayor Nancy Shaver, who read Stanish’s book, is interested in starting an initiative to improve St. Augustine’s homelessness. With supporters from across the city, St. Augustine has the opportunity to improve the situation for the homeless community and create new opportunities for its population.

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