In November of 2007, the first POVERTEE was made. We worked into the hours of the early morning to create a single pocket. After hours of trial and error, we finally sewed the pocket onto a shirt - and it looked terrible. But the shirt’s humble imperfections made it beautiful, and we have been building upon that foundation ever since.
Soon after making our first shirt, we bought food for lunches and walked through alleys passing them out in Downtown Los Angeles. That day we met two people named Larry and Linda [whom we’re happy to still call our friends today]. It was also on that day, thanks to the friendships we established with those two people, that we realized our mission had to be about something more than passing out sack lunches. We learned that caring for people isn’t just about feeding and clothing them (although this is very important), but about knowing them, valuing them, and encouraging them to develop within a supportive community.
Ever since that day, we have been returning to the very same area, bringing provisions to people who are in need and grateful to be treated as friends. These are the people behind POVERTEES. These are the men and women that make a POVERTEE more than just a pocketed t-shirt. It is through our time spent with these people that we have come to appreciate the value of genuine friendship. And it is with these people that we intend to highlight the inherent value of every individual in relationships that transcend ethnicity, background, socio-economic status, age, and belief – in a life sewn together.
We sell clothing so that we can continue to return to the streets of LA on a weekly basis, not just to pass out provisions and to build relationships, but also to inspire our friends to get involved with rehabilitation centers and in-patient resources. Our goal for the future is to create a system that aids homeless individuals in getting rehabilitation and eventually, in getting employed (possibly in making POVERTEES!), and in getting off of the streets.