Charlotte Cramer and Scarlett Montanaro: She’s Shopping for the Homeless

June 2 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Home is Where the Heart is

We don’t often talk about men here at On The Dot. (After all, aren’t they in the news enough?) But darn it if I don’t love a touching story about a man helping women. Our First Thought today is about Rick Steves, whose guidebooks you’ve probably encountered in the bookstore travel section. Maybe you’ve even seen him wandering across Europe, discovering the treasures of history on his public-television series. In the early days of his globetrotting, Rick often traveled the continent looking for free places to crash for the night, like a pew in a Greek church or a barn on the edge of a pricey Swiss Alps resort.

The savings he garnered by traveling lean allowed Rick to purchase a 24-unit apartment complex back home decades ago. But instead of charging tenants rent, he welcomed those who were looking to get their lives back on track, often single moms recovering from drug addiction. This year, Rick decided to up his philanthropic endeavor, donating his $4 million apartment complex to the YWCA, which will continue to use the facility to house homeless women and children. Here’s a shout-out to Rick Steves and all the other men quietly working to advocate for women.


As we’ve discussed before, homeless women face a slew of hardships, including one major personal concern you don’t hear about in the mainstream media: how to deal with menstruation. Thank goodness one nonprofit is stepping up to help this vulnerable population. Happy Period, an organization started in 2015, has dispersed more than 6,000 kits to homeless women containing menstrual products, underwear and soap. As the group’s founder notes, this is a real issue for women’s rights that must be addressed. If you want to help, you can start a fundraiser or simply shop for items on the Happy Period Amazon wish list.

WOMEN TO WATCH: Charlotte Cramer and Scarlett Montanaro, Co-founders of Crack + Cider

Many of us often find our calling by simply listening to other people’s stories. That’s precisely how social entrepreneurs Charlotte Cramer and Scarlett Montanaro ended up launching the world’s first online shop for the homeless, Crack + Cider.

It all started when they encountered a homeless man in London who told them, “People don’t give me money because they just think I’ll spend it on crack and cider.” The sentiment was heartbreaking, and motivated Charlotte and Scarlett to do something impactful.

Crack + Cider’s online shop features a variety of supplies shoppers can purchase, which are then donated to those in need. These essential items include the more obvious needs, like winter jackets, gloves and socks, but also items like umbrellas and even a canine-care kit. Helping out doesn’t mean givers have to spend a pretty penny, as Crack + Cider’s products are affordable, ranging from $10 to $80 for an entire warm-and-dry set, making this an accessible way for anyone to give.

Since starting their online shop in 2015, Charlotte and Scarlett have donated items to more than 8,000 homeless people in London and California. That’s 8,000 people who have experienced the grace of a selfless gift, people whose lives have likely been saved by complete strangers.

Despite making such an impact, Crack + Cider is a side gig for Charlotte and Scarlett, who both hold full-time jobs in the advertising industry. Charlotte has a knack for strategy and a real heart of gold. Her first venture, Glow Away, helped kids overcome their fear of the dark. Both women were IPA Woman of Tomorrow 2016 finalists, and Scarlett also volunteers for Cocktails in Care Homes, a fun nonprofit that hosts cocktail parties at senior-care homes and provides residents with lots of socialization time with volunteers.

These two young women are a testament to the idea that it doesn’t take much to make a positive change in the lives of those who need it most.


With Charlotte Cramer and Scarlett Montanaro in mind, today’s spirited quote comes from the one and only Mother Teresa, who said:

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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