This is one of a series of stories we are sharing to show what’s inside CubeSmart. You not only get a peek inside our customer’s storage unit, but also a peek inside what is important to them. Thank you to Vanessa, a customer of our CubeSmart store in Cutler Bay, FL, for sharing her story with us.
Rev. Vanessa Tinsley arrives in a t-shirt bearing the logo of Bridge to Hope, after having just served 700 people lunch. She's also wearing braces on her ankles from ripped tendons. She says she's not supposed to be on her feet, but she can't let her clients down. She's the executive director of a Miami-based nonprofit that she founded in 1988, Bridge to Hope, and The Community Kitchen is just one of the programs her organization offers to the community.
Being born in England as an only child, and spending some time in Spain as a missionary before coming to the US, have helped Vanessa view culture from a variety of perspectives. Bearing no discernible accent, she reports that she is "culturally ambiguous" on the visual side as well, with many people mistakenly attributing her heritage to various countries. She likes keeping things that way because she doesn't seek to be labeled.
She also says she has a "blended family" with her husband that includes seven kids, 18 grandkids, and 1 great-grandchild. One of her children, a daughter, just left on her third tour in Iraq with the Air Force.
Vanessa, an ordained minister, says that her life's mission is "to leave people better than I found them." She's dedicated her life to service of others; obtaining numerous degrees, certifications, and accolades. She's also served as a teacher for over 30 years, as well as a Public and Motivational Speaker since 1994; speaking in the US, Spain, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
While Vanessa stores some of her own personal items in a personal unit, she primarily uses her storage units located at 19395 SW 106th Ave, Cutler Bay, FL 33157 to store items for the organization.
She's been a customer for years, and she reports being so happy with her units that she actually moved the organization to be closer to the storage facility. She said, "Everything is within a 5-mile radius; client services is right down the street."
When she first acquired a unit there, the organization's annual revenue was just $25,000 and now the organization brings in $650,000 a year. Because of the flexibility that CubeSmart offers her, expanding and contracting when needed, she is able to ensure that more of that revenue goes into directly serving their client's needs. She says they need more space for back to school and the holidays, but they do have a large unit that they keep all year round.
The organization works with CarrFour to provide basic necessities like food, clothing, housewares, and furniture for clients going from homeless to housing. The units serve as a "one-stop shop to pick up what you need," she says.
In addition to the expected services, Bridge to Hope has also provided services for unexpected situations like Hurricane Irma Relief. They served 32,000 people who live outside of Marathon; right out of their storage units.
Vanessa says she comes in to pay the bill in person, which gives her the chance to connect with the other customers; some of which leave donations for her clients. She also enjoys speaking with the staff. She said, "It's one of the few places where you spend your money and feel appreciated. Some places act like they are doing you a service to take your money. CubeSmart is like a family, so coming in is like visiting family."
We’d love to hear how self storage has positively impacted your life. Share your #HumansofSelfStorage story in the comments.