PB Street Guardians, which reportedly had about $900 worth of cleaning supplies pilfered from an alleyway storage shed, had their losses reimbursed by local lawyer/philanthropist Su Barry, who operates the Su Barry Foundation.
“The shed was in the alley behind St. Andrews By The Sea Church, and they’ve allowed us to work there as well as giving us a parking space for our truck,” said PB Guardians founder/director Caryn Blanton.
Of the theft, Blanton said: “The lock was gone. [Thieves] must have clipped it. It happened sometime in the afternoon between 1 and 4 p.m.
“They did it when they knew we wouldn’t be there,” continued Blanton. “They didn’t steal brooms, rakes, garbage pails or trash liners. They took the ‘smart’ things to make some money quick.”
Blanton said stolen equipment, which included a weed wacker and a leaf blower, were taken on Friday, Jan. 11.
“I actually posted something on our social media that night,” she said. “Twenty-four hours later, everything was handled, which is amazing.”
Blanton said a couple individuals offered to chip in about $100. “Then we had [Barry] write a check for the amount of money it would cost,” she added.
Blanton created the PB Guardians a couple of years ago as a common-sense way of helping people transition out of homelessness by offering them jobs and a way of reconnecting with society.
PB Guardians just celebrated its second anniversary, and is now in its third year of operations.
“We are growing,” Blanton said. “We started out doing cleaning three days a week, and now we’re doing it six days.”
The guardians work with Discover PB, the community’s business improvement district, doing cleanup and beautification. They also have other clients, now including cleaning and upkeep for four local churches. The nonprofit is also enlisted to cleanup for special events in PB, such as the beach community’s annual festival.
The nonprofit group has also enhanced what it can offer its homeless clients.
Said Blanton: “We’re not just offering people case management. We’re offering them resources and life skills training to help them on their journey to self-sufficiency.”
Blanton cited the impetus behind her creating PB Guardians as “the disparity between people in houses and out of houses.
“I just thought there was a better way for these two groups of people to get together in a healthier way,” she said. “I thought with work it would be easier to bridge the gap.”
The guardians started out with two people with carts collecting litter. It has since grown to eight employees.
“This summer I’ll probably have to hire a couple more,” said Blanton.
Of what she’s learned from this negative-turned -positive experience, Blanton noted, “It was really amazing for the community to help out. It really makes us feel like the work we’re doing is significant.”