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OUR HISTORY

SALT Outreach was founded by Eric Camarillo in 2011. He had just become a Christian and wanted to make a difference in the community and the church he had just become a part of. However, he noticed a few things that were preventing the church from being able to impact the community effectively:

  • Lack of Unity: There was little cooperation between the churches, and it seemed that they were divided by race, worship styles, age, etc. For the work to be finished effectively and efficiently, everyone must be united in service.

  • Lack of Outreach: A lot of churches were not involved in any type of community outreach and those that were, did not do it in an impactful way.

  • Lack of Consistency: The outreach projects that were being done, were not being done on a consistent basis. Without consistency, relationship cannot be created, and the outreach lacked the depth needed for a meaningful impact.

Noticing these setbacks, Eric knew that something had to change. There needed to be something that could rally people together from all different walks of life. An organization that would focus on impactful community service projects, exemplify Christ’s method of evangelism by creating meaningful relationships with those in need in the community, and create a "space" for church communities, community organizations and members, local government,  and corporations to work together to for a common cause.
 

The First Events

With this vision, the first event was held September of 2011. Over 150 young adults who wanted to learn about how to serve and what SALT was about were in attendance. After sharing the vision and planting seeds of interest in those that attended, a second event was scheduled for November of 2011.

Before the second event, Eric reached out to the young adults who had expressed different passions for outreach projects and shared their ideas for outreach at the first event. At the second event in November, close to 250 young adults representing many different churches were in attendance. The young adults interested in starting/leading ministries were set up with tables and they took sign ups for new volunteers. From that event, ten different outreach ministries were created which formed the foundation for the beginning of the organization. After that time SALT hosted outreach events, worship services, socials, and fundraisers.

One of those tables was our Outreach Project with the unsheltered.

In May of 2012, SALT became incorporated with the State of Florida as a 501(c)3 Pending Nonprofit and opened it's bank account. We were then able to start accepting donations to fuel the vision for the nonprofit. In September of 2012, SALT had their first year anniversary event which brought about 850 people from all over Florida. This number of interested individuals was overwhelming as the organization had a very basic structure and was not built to handle this much interest at one time. Eric then decided to quit his job as a dental assistant and for 6 months was unemployed while completely dedicating himself to running and developing the organization as a full time volunteer.

Many testimonies came from Eric’s 6 month journey of "unemployment" because he was able to depend on God in a way he had never done so before. God always came through with the blessings he needed to be able to pay his bills while he was working to add some structure to the organization.

Narrowing the Focus

 

In 2014, SALT made a big decision to condense its outreach ministries from ten to three. This would allow the organization to streamline its focus and to utilize its resources in a more effective way.

 

One of these three was the outreach to the unsheltered. By this time, SALT was sharing food with over 200 unsheltered people on a bi-weekly basis.

 

In 2016, Eric received his CNP (Certified Non-Profit Professional) Credential, and graduated with his social work degree which provided him with valuable knowledge to better serve others. At this time, SALT also received it's 501(c)3. Along with the leadership team, Eric was able to restructure and reorganize the leadership roles, solidified each outreach project's mission & vision, and developed several programs that would help SALT to run even more smoothly.

 

First Phase of the Mobile Outreach Center - Clothing Trailer

Later that year, in 2016, the organization was able to raise $4,000 to purchase a clothing trailer (which SALT called it's Change Trailer)  that would be added to the outreach with the unsheltered held in downtown Orlando.

 

After they would receive a meal, they would be able to receive a change of clothing as well as a pair of shoes. This came after doing surveys with the unsheltered and realizing clothing and hygiene was hard for the unsheltered to access in downtown.

In 2017, the team realized that providing food and clothing was just not enough. A change of clothing was almost useless if those receiving the clothing were not clean. Eric and his team decided that they needed to provide showers for those receiving clothing. They began fundraising to purchase a mobile shower trailer.

Second Phase of the Mobile Outreach Center - Shower Trailer

In 2018, after raising $40k, a mobile shower trailer outfitted with four full bathrooms was purchased and SALT launched its mobile shower trailer in August of 2018.

At that time, SALT Outreach was featured on Channel 9 news, which was the first time SALT Outreach started to get known in the local community.

You can watch that Channel 9 News Story Here. SALT started to transition out of the food share with the unsheltered and focused on developing it's Mobile Outreach Center (Mobile Drop-in Center). Starting in September, SALT operated once a month, still with an all volunteer work force providing clothing and hygiene products with it's Change Trailer, showers with it's Shower Trailer, food, and haircuts.

Purchase of Additional Vehicles

In early 2019, SALT fundraised to purchase a 15-passenger van that was used to shuttle the unsheltered to and from the mobile outreach events (as needed, over time the unsheltered would come through word of mouth). The van also helped to transport the Change Trailer to and from the outreach center.

Most of 2019, SALT fundraised to purchase a truck to transport the shower trailer (SALT had been using volunteers with trucks or renting trucks to transport the trailer to and from events). In December of 2019, SALT was able to purchase a 2017 GMC Sierra to pull the shower trailer. 

These purchases helped SALT build it's capacity to operate more often and to be more flexible in it's operation.

Brand Sponsorship Program

 

One of SALT's major goals for 2019 was to launch a Corporate Sponsorship Program, in which organizations and businesses can pledge to donate a certain amount per year to support the mission and vision of the organization. SALT Outreach's first sponsor came from the Orlando Utilities Commission. 

Solar Panels on the Shower trailer by OUC

In early 2020, the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) donated the funds to have solar panels installed on the shower trailer. This allowed SALT Outreach to take the shower trailer anywhere without the need to plug into electricity or a water supply.

You can view the news story showing the ribbon cutting of the Solar Panel addition to the shower trailer here.

The Pandemic Begins

 

As we moved into 2020, still with an all volunteer workforce, SALT was determined to operate at least once per week. SALT hired it's first two part time employees in February 2020 to make that a reality.

 

In March 2020, SALT was met with the challenge of a pandemic, something which greatly affected the outreach.

Our home-bound (unhoused) outreach also had to take on a different dynamic. We temporarily asked all of our volunteers to no longer volunteer at this time, and  we asked our outreach partners not to be present at the events either. The SALT board came together, and after much prayer and careful consideration, decided to continue to operate during the pandemic. Many other organizations had to shut down, but with SALT Outreach being an outside operation, we felt we could mitigate the risks.

Partnering with the City of Orlando

Almost all other non-profits and benefits organizations who assisted the unsheltered closed down due to the pandemic, the City of Orlando contracted SALT to provide showers and hygienic services to our home-bound friends three times a week in order to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

 

Up until this point we had only been operating about three to four times per month and we felt privileged to be able to serve our home-bound friends on a more consistent basis. The contract was for April through July 2020, but we hoped to continue these services beyond that four month period. We were able to hire four part-time employees to operate the mobile outreach center throughout each week, one of whom was a former unhoused friend, Patrick Woods, who used to come to us for assistance before being hired. 

Click here to get a visual of our operation at the start of the pandemic from May 2020.

The Hilton Orlando's Special Gift

 

After hiring employees to operate the mobile outreach center during the pandemic, we were concerned about the safety of their families to whom they would go home to every day.

 

The Hilton Orlando graciously offered us four hotel rooms to accommodate our employees for over 90 days so that they didn't have to put their loved ones at risk (a value of about $100,000). We utilized two of those rooms and it was a huge help in keeping our employee's families safe and putting everyone's mind at ease.

 

We are grateful to the Hilton for their generosity and assistance to our organization during a very stressful and unchartered time.

The Life of Patrick Wood - Formerly Homeless

Before being hired by SALT, Patrick, affectionately called Pat, used to come and receive assistance. He would come to get a shower, clothing, and a meal, but he always felt like he needed to give something back for the help he received. Him and his friend, Singleton, would volunteer with us before receiving any assistance at our outreach events. They kept the showers clean in between each use and helped to organized the queue of individuals waiting to take a shower. Eventually, we would compensate them for a day's work because they were a great help before we were able to hire employees.

Singleton eventually found employment and was able to move into housing, but Pat would still faithfully come to our outreach events. When we had to opportunity to hire employees to run the outreach center, Pat was a clear choice. When given the news that we wanted to hire him, he had tears in his eyes. He hadn't held a job in years, and felt honored to become an official member of the SALT team.

 

After working with SALT for about 3 months, Pat began having pain in his left leg that got considerably worse in a short period of time. After being gently persuaded by SALT staff and leaders, who had become like family to Pat, to see a physician, it was discovered that Pat was in stage 4 Cancer. We were all devastated by this news, especially upon discovering that he only had mere weeks to live. The SALT team immediately suspended him from work, but still providing him with all of his needs. Even in his poor physical health, Pat still wanted to work and it took great convincing to get him to rest and be taken care of. In a few short weeks, Pat moved into hospice where he passed way quietly with one of our SALT leaders, Palmetta, holding his hand. A week before his passing, he started studying the bible and his last request was to be baptized.

Our time with our brother Pat was unexpectedly short, but during that time he came to mean so much to us and taught us many valuable lessons. He reminded us that to be family, you didn't need to be related by blood, you just need to have a love for each other that transcends the mistakes of our past and accepts us for who we are, children of God filled with value and infinite potential. He taught us to not "read a book by it's cover", to be willing to give someone another chance, and to always be willing to work hard and do our part to help others no matter what struggles we ourselves are going through. The transformation that we saw in Pat over the time that we knew him was apparent, and it was encouraging to realize that we were truly "changing bodies and souls" through the work that we do at SALT Outreach.

Partnering with the Christian Service Center

SALT is a mobile outreach center, and at times it is difficult to find a location to set up all of our trailers and vehicles. Around August of 2020, through a link at the City of Orlando, the Christian Service Center offered to partner with SALT and allow us to set up our mobile outreach center on their property, free of charge. They also provided us with the use of their buildings for various purposes such as storage of clothing and shoe donations, hair-cutting stations, washer and dryer hookups. It is partnerships like this that empower organizations like ours and the Christian Service Center to utilize its resources efficiently and provide support and assistance to those in need as effectively as possible. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Christian Service Center as we continue to partner with them.

$250,000 Grant from the City of Orlando 

The City of Orlando extended it's contract with SALT into September, and in October SALT was awarded a grant of $250,000 by the City of Orlando to continue providing services and resources to our unhoused guests for one full year. Due to more funds, SALT was able to hire more employees to run the daily operations of the mobile outreach center, expanding and increasing it's services to the unsheltered. SALT was able to add a fourth day to its operation at that time. Additionally, SALT was able hire two full time social workers and bring on six UCF social work interns to provide case management services to our homebound friends at the beginning of 2021. This is a huge blessing as SALT was  better able to connect the unsheltered with other resources and organizations, helping them take steps toward ending their homelessness.

You can view the news story of the $250,000 grant from the City of Orlando to SALT here.

 

Launching our Laundry Trailer

In late October of 2020, with help from the City of Orlando, Simply Healthcare Plans (new corporate sponsor), and many generous private donors from the community, SALT was able to place the 50% down-payment on the next phase of our mobile outreach center, a laundry trailer. The laundry trailer, valued at $90,000 is outfitted with 6 industrial sized washers and dryers. These 12 units will allow us to provide our home-bound friends with the ability to have clean laundry at no cost to them. Being able to launder our friends' clothing is important because it better utilizes clothing and monetary donations. The cleaned clothes will be able to be worn over and over, instead of being thrown away once they become soiled beyond use. 

 

SALT made the final payment in March of 2021 and on April 15th, National Laundry Day, SALT had the ribbon cutting ceremony for this first of its kind (in Orlando Florida) laundry trailer. Buddy Dyer, Mayor of Orlando, came out to celebrate with us and declared April 15th to be SALT (Service and Love Together) Day for the City of Orlando! The event was also attended by Commissioner Regina Hill and Commissioner Robert Stuart, as well as Roben Dunnings from Simply Healthcare Plans, all of whom shared special congratulatory words with the leaders and employees of our organization.

During the ceremony we had several loads of clothing running in the washers and dryers, and it was amazing to see the immediate effects that the laundry trailer was having for our homebound friends and clients. Including the afore-mentioned individuals, the ribbon was cut by Eric Camarillo, president and founder of SALT. It was truly a day to remember and SALT was excited to see how the laundry services benefit it's unhoused guests.

You can view the news story of the laundry trailer launch here.

Case Management Program

In October 2020, Renae Oxford our Senior Case Manager, started working with us part-time. She worked closely with Eric Camarillo on a case management program launched in January 2021. At that time we hired our second Senior Case Manager, Leslie Fritjofson. Together, they ran the program initially with six social work interns from the University of Central Florida. Our case management program is designed to assess the needs of the individual, create a plan, make referrals to other organizations, and fill any service gaps in the community. Their main metric of success is how many people they help take the next step toward ending their homelessness and how many people they help transition to shelter or housing. Our case management team was able to help 75% of those they served take the next step toward ending their homelessness and helped 20% transition to shelter or housing. SA:LT runs a housing-focused drop-in center. 

Building Permanent Housing

In July of 2021, SALT was inspired to build permanent supportive housing for the unsheltered through shipping containers. They have received for funding for this project and are continuing to create the best possible prototype of this model. 

Additional Services for the Unsheltered

Throughout 2021, SALT gradually added additional services for the unsheltered. In addition to case management and laundry, SALT added mail services, limited storage services, and charging stations for people experiencing homelessness. SALT now manages the mail for over 400 people and provides charging stations daily for more than 30+ people. SALT will continue to expand services as needs are identified with the guests that SALT serves. Currently, SALT is operating five days per week and serving over 100 people per day. SALT completes between 70 to 80 showers per day and 50 to 55 loads of laundry per day. Since the start of the pandemic, SALT has been able to serve 5,000+ unduplicated persons with over 250,000 different services and resources. 

Expanding into Sanford

SALT started to operate in Sanford in October 2021 and continues to go out to Sanford every week. This was made possible by the Universal Orlando Foundation, Seminole County, and Advent Health Altamonte. We hope to expand and grow our services and impact even more people as we find the best location to serve in the Sanford area. 

Thanks to donations from AdventHealth and Spyder Controls, SALT was able to launch a shower trailer dedicated to the Seminole County area. SALT now has the capacity to increase it's service days in Seminole County and is looking for funding to make this a reality.

2021 Fundraising and the Administrative team

SALT's goal in 2021 was to raise over a million dollars to build the capacity to quadruple our impact from the year before and start to hire administrative staff. This would mean over 10 times what was raised in 2019, and four times what was raised in 2020. 

Up until 2021, the administrative functions were performed by Eric Camarillo, and a small handful of part-time employees and interns. Eric was still working a full-time job (40 to 50 hours per week) along with his duties at SALT which were starting to take up about 30 additional hours per week.

 

In April 2021, Eric Camarillo quit his full-time job, and became the full-time Executive Director of the organization. SALT hired additional administrative staff to handle Human Resources, Reporting and Data, Business Development, Accounting, an Executive Assistant, and a Philanthropy Assistant. The Administrative staff was key to helping SALT to build the capacity needed to grow the organization in order to help even more people experiencing homelessness in even more places. This added a new challenge for SALT as raising administrative expenses are usually more difficult than raising the funds for Outreach and Case Management related expenses. SALT ended 2021, raising more than $1,050,000, which was slightly over our goal for that year. We spent roughly $850,000 to deliver the impact it did in 2021 between about 25 staff members (more than half were part-time). SALT looked forward to what 2022 would bring as they continued to move forward with God's help!

SALT Outposts and SOS Weekends

SALT started the SALT Outpost Initiative in 2021 as a way to expand SALT branches through churches within the state of Florida. To learn more about this initiative, you can click here. SALT started an initiative to expand SALT and/or its model in different states outside of Florida. To learn more about SOS Weekends, you can click here. There is also a SALT Outpost option for out-of-state churches and groups, but a pre-requisite is that they must have completed a SALT SOS Weekend first. To learn more about the out-of-state SALT Outposts, click here.

SALT Outposts and SOS Weekends

SALT started the SALT Outpost Initiative in 2021 as a way to expand SALT branches through churches within the state of Florida. To learn more about this initiative, you can click here. SALT started an initiative to expand SALT and/or its model in different states outside of Florida. To learn more about SOS Weekends, you can click here. There is also a SALT Outpost option for out-of-state churches and groups, but a pre-requisite is that they must have completed a SALT SOS Weekend first. To learn more about the out-of-state SALT Outposts, click here.

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