Local business owner innovates ways to help homeless

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A Savannah small business owner is innovating ways to help people who are struggling to meet their basic needs.

The founder of Salacia Salts said the community is in desperate need right now for both large and small businesses to come together to find ways to help people who are living out on the streets.

“I saw someone washing their hands in a public drinking fountain and I thought that doesn’t seem right I wonder if there’s something we can do,” Cari Clark Phelps, Salacia Salts’ founder, stated.

The entrepreneur decided to follow the guidelines given from the Centers for Disease and Contorl to create a hand sanitizer for the people who cannot afford to buy one.

“What we’re doing is providing four ounces of hand sanitizer to homeless and near homeless through Emmaus House. We’ve donated the first 50 units, they distributed those within 24 hours. We’re hoping that we’re helping stop the spread of germs and contamination, we’re making people feel like they’re not helpless out there,” Phelps said.

Phelps hoped more businesses will step up to find solutions to help the growing number of people who are struggling to find a place to sleep due to the number of homeless shelters, like Old Savannah City Mission, who had to reduce their housing ability to follow the public health emergency protocols.

“We went from housing 40 people down to ten people to maintain social distancing,” Jermaine Ray, the shelter’s assistant night manager said.

Hand sanitizer one just one of the many “dire” needs the Old Savannah City Mission’s employee said the local shelters are struggling to provide.

“There’s nowhere for them to stay at night, um there’s nowhere to get a shower,” Ray stated.

Phelps hoped people would be more attentive to the people in their communities.

“A lot of these people have small children, some of them are Veterans. I think a lot of it just comes back to people being more compassionate and thinking how can we help people on the day-to-day. Hopefully from this we can see opportunities to create new ways to utilize the resources that we have. I mean they have the facilities and they’re empty and they’re closing.”

Phelps also expressed concerns for the future of local businesses—describing the layoffs and heavy monetary losses generated from small stores closing across the country.

“We always seem to be telling each other, let’s support small business, but in a time like this a lot of small businesses are closed, we’re not considered essential companies.There’s going to be a lot of businesses that are going to struggle in the next few months,” Phelps commented

The local entrepreneur asked people to see how they could substitute the essentials they purchase with local business equivalents; whether it was through online purchasing or curbside pickup.

Old Savannah City Mission is asking help from local businesses and restaurants has been invaluable but they are asking for the community to continue rallying support to offer donations and solutions for the time of need.

“Just the look on their face to make them feel like they’re human again, so I, we really need a place where we can try to get where those homeless guys and women to be able to shower, at least if not for the housing just the shower part of it,” Ray said.

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