Peeking through the window of the Thornton Park Laundromat on a Tuesday night you can see Briana Daniel and Street Team Movement volunteers assisting the homeless with washing their clothes. Her car is parked outside on the dimly lit street, packed with boxes of items that most take for granted.
The 24-year-old University of Central Florida graduate has been holding these washing events for several years. For her, it’s about more than just providing clean clothes. She says the laundry events are about teaching and seeing progress.
“You’re learning a skill that you didn’t have,” Daniel says. “I’m not saying that I taught you this skill, but I’m bringing out something that’s already in you.”
Daniel says she has had to structure and restructure the organization as she discovered what did and didn’t work, and she’s still creating new rules to make the operation run smoothly and effectively. But now she requires that people make appointments, do the laundry themselves, clean up after themselves, and they cannot show up under the influence.
During these laundry events, you can find Daniel talking to people, assisting with the process, or even passing out gloves if it’s a cold night. Her car is always packed with donations like razors, deodorant, clothes, socks, small towels, backpacks and more necessities.
“You got to show love,” she says. “You got to take your shoes off sometimes and give it to people. You got to take your jacket off and walk around in the cold to show ‘em ‘no, I mean it. I’m not going away. I’m going to continue to come out here until you learn this lesson.’”
The next step for Street Team Movement is to get a mobile shower trailer, which Daniel would bring to individuals living in the woods, like the camps in Kissimmee. She says the shower trailer would be a vehicle for sharing the lessons at the backbone of the organization: hope, respect and self-esteem.
Up until now, Daniel has been running 70 percent of the organization with her personal income and 30 percent from donations. But she wants 2016 to be a year of focusing on fundraising since Street Team Movement does not receive any government funding. She plans to use donations to bring more services to the community.
“The shower trailer is great, but that’s not even the mountaintop,” Daniel says.
Her long-term goal is to have a drop-in center, a stable place where people can go for various services. She says they won’t be providing permanent housing but rather a pathway to permanent housing as an interim solution.
At the end of 2016 there will be another Street Team Movement chapter in Seminole County that follows the model she has already created. But Daniels has even bigger dreams for the future. She’s even in the process of connecting with local philanthropists to grow her organization. She says, “I definitely see it all over the country.”