All That We Are
In 2007, I started Povertees after meeting a man named Larry in an alley in downtown LA. I don't remember everything we talked about, but I remember we laughed a lot. I remember that he kept giving us advice on how to be considerate and how to stay safe. And I remember being able to tell that he was so happy just to have someone to talk to.
My relationship with Larry showed me that our mission could not simply be about providing handouts, but about providing opportunity. For seven years, we saw chronically homeless friends make drastic changes in their lives to escape the cycle of poverty. Each one of them credited their changes to feeling a sense of community.
Since then, we have built our organization into a wholesale clothing social enterprise. We work with businesses and organizations to make clothing and branded merchandise that will allow people-in-need to secure employment and permanent housing. Over the years, we saw people returning to the streets because they could not find steady employment and did not have a community away from Skid Row. In response, we offer supportive employment to women who are transitioning out of homelessness. We care for their well-being in and out of the workplace, and involve them in all aspects of the organization. Our employees do not simply work here, they belong here.
We look at clothing merchandising and we see an opportunity to create true communal change. Businesses are not separate from the communities they operate in. We operate to show that community should not be separate from business.
Tyler James Patterson