SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) — More than $21,000 in fines and citations — that’s price for a Santa Rosa non-profit that refuses to close its thrift stores.
“We have to take a stand in these situations we realize we’re defying the order we’re very clear about it but what we believe is that there is discrimination in these essential and non-essential businesses,” Dana Bryant said.
Bryant says the stores help to fund “Crossing the Jordan”, an organization designed to help people struggling with addiction, homelessness or incarceration.
Without the money the thrift stores bring in, their programs would crumble.
“What do you do? What do you do? We walk away, we walk away from all this and our people and we put them on the street? It doesn’t seem just and we’re just gonna stand,” Bryant said.
Public health guidelines forced the stores including three in Santa Rosa to shutdown in March.
After six weeks and no sign of relief, Bryant and her husband decided to reopen with precautions.
Bryant says curbside which Sonoma County allows for had not been a viable option for their business.
“We took a risk when we opened our doors we said let the people speak for themselves if they think it’s unsafe they wont come in if they think it’s unsafe they wont donate,” she said/
But with the return of customers came visits from police.
“The police came, they were actually really nice and he said well he said this isn’t personal and I said it’s personal for us,” Michael Bryant said.
Michael, Dana’s husband and the CEO of the non-profit says these stores provide stability and housing for more than 100 people in the program.
Graduate, now program manager Leah Carmean-Rivers has experienced the benefits.
“It’s important that we keep the doors open for the welfare of our kids and our program and it’s like their lives,” she said.
And because those lives depend on it, the Bryant’s say they’ll find a way to handle the fines or at least hope for a judge who will sympathize with their cause.
“Staying open and defying orders and being able to get in front of a judge, at least we have a fighting chance the other way there was no fight at all it was close down and send them off and I was’t willing to do that,” Michael Bryant said.
A GoFundMe page has since been set up with a goal of raising $250 thousand to save Crossing the Jordan.
The owners of the organization say they’ve also filed a lawsuit against state and local orders.
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