Written by The Business Journal Staff
Sandra Kaye, Founder
St. Francis Homeless Project
What’s the story behind St. Francis Homeless Project, Inc.?
I happened to see people freezing on the streets in New York, and the only thing keeping them warm was their dogs. I decided that maybe I may be being selfish in my life, by thinking I didn’t have enough, and it made me realize that I wanted to explore dog’s helping homelessness. I simply Googled that, and only one thing came up, a shelter in Kansas. I called and they were helping homeless people in their shelter to get work skills in a bakery environment. We have been collaborating ever since, about five years now. They mentored our program and even came to California to help, and we traveled to Kansas to be trained. What a journey to this point. Also, our Facebook has been helpful, in drawing attention to our non-profit.
Is the project a full-time endeavor for you, Sandra?
Not right now, but certainly looking at that seriously, but would prefer to have the full-time position belong to a women who has survived a bad situation. I believe that is a job as well and better suited to someone that knows the “ropes” better than me.
Why dog treats, Sandra?
Well, glad you asked. The average number of dogs per home nationally is 1.47. The natural treat business is one of the few businesses that has shown steady increases, even in a recession. The number of treats sold per year is a staggering number. We wish to “carve out” that potential to help our community to help those women who have chosen to help themselves. We want Dogs Dig Em’ biscuits to become the treat of choice so the dog gets a healthy threat and the women get a chance to improve their self-confidence through employment.
What has your program meant to the women involved, Sandra?
We have seen the smiles, and the pride and the encouragement to help their success.
How has the community supported the St. Francis Homeless Project, Sandra?
Our community has supported all our fundraising efforts, and helped us on all levels. It is a very generous and loving place to live. All the negativity that you hear every day should be second guessed by the many persons who live here that absolutely care about making Fresno a better place to live for all. We are grateful and appreciate the charitable community and we are proud to be growing.
What’s in the future for the St. Francis Homeless Project, Inc., Sandra?
Expansion with help, and the changing of more women and children’s’ lives. We are very excited that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development just sent us a Technical Assistance Grant to help us grow our organization. We appreciated that very much.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it, Sandra?
My first job was at 16 ½, as a cobbler. I was taught that hard work is something that will always benefit you. My parent’s made all us kids get a work permit, and help the family.
What was the best advice you ever received, Sandra?
Don’t be afraid to ask — if you don’t you’ll never know.
What are your roots in the Valley, Sandra?
My husband Tom and myself have owned and operated Your Home Interiors for 22 years in Fresno. Our roots are here in business and spirit.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Sandra?
I love to cook gourmet meals, spend time with my husband, garden and drive my dogs crazy with treats.