When New York City transplants, Whitney Skibell and Adrienne Bavar, moved to San Francisco they were alarmed by the overwhelmingly large homeless population. The amount of homeless women and children in particular stood out to the two New Yorkers.
While it's clear that homelessness is a nation wide crisis, women and children are the most vulnerable victims. This group oftentimes experiences domestic/sexual abuse, interpersonal violence, and tends to suffer from higher levels of depression and anxiety.
Homeless women and children remain unaccounted for, which is why Adrienne and Whitney teamed up with Compass Family Services and designer Road 22 in The Bay Area to help these "invisible" victims. Here are three unique ways these women, along with others, are raising awareness and offering support for this specific homeless population:
Women Providing Shelter and Care
In order to help children and families in need, Compass Family Services provides six programs - mostly run by women - designed to support over 6,000 at-risk parents and children each year. Women make up 73 percent of Compass's clientele.
"The majority of our clients are mothers with one or more children, with more than half of these women having experienced extreme abuse and trauma. Our case managers, counselors, and teachers are mostly women - many of them have been in their shoes and know exactly what to do and what to say to prepare them for the hard work ahead to break the cycles of poverty and homelessness," said Stacy Webb, Communications and Corporate Relations Manager for Compass Family Services.
A Campaign to Raise Awareness
Familiar with the initiatives being taken by Compass Family Services, Whitney and Adrienne were determined to help and joined forces with Compass to raise even more awareness around homeless women and children.
"We are inspired by the incredible work of Compass Family Services in keeping families off the streets, and providing them with housing stability, family well being and self sufficiency. After visiting their children's center in the Tenderloin and seeing the kids laughing, learning and playing in a safe and nurturing environment we left with a sense of hope and a clear mission," Adrienne said.
The two business partners created the "More Than a Shirt" campaign, a recent initiative designed to drive public awareness and lend a helping hand to San Francisco's homeless women and children. Whitney and Adrienne partnered with Road 22 to create a limited edition T-shirt that retails for $86 on the Road 22 website. A portion of the proceeds from every shirt will be donated to Compass Family Services.
The "More Than a Shirt" campaign truly shows that one T-shirt can have an impact and generate awareness for this at risk community. Although this campaign is just getting started in San Francisco, Adrienne and Whitney are planning to expand their message to Dallas and Los Angeles, two other major cities with a growing number of homeless women and children.
"We believe in finding innovative ways to make a difference in the world. Seeing firsthand the crisis that has unraveled in San Francisco, we felt compelled to do something. We fundamentally believe that fashion and philanthropy can drive awareness and change. What you wear has the power to start a conversation about this issue at every meal, on every date and at every happy hour. You can be the voice of change. We hope others will follow our lead and join us in improving the lives of those in need." Whitney said.
Employing Women in Need
What's really unique about the "More Than a Shirt" campaign is the approach that Whitney and Adrienne took to design the T-shirt. The two women specifically chose to partner with the socially conscious designer, Road 22 because they believe in their mission of employing formerly incarcerated or homeless women.
Road 22 provides these women with a steady income and a chance for a better life. This notion highlights a message similar to the "More Than a Shirt" campaign, making Road 22 the perfect fashion label to represent this unique cause.
Women Making a Difference
The initiatives being implemented by Compass Family Services, Road 22 and the "More Than a Shirt" campaign demonstrate just how powerful women can be when they join forces to help each other - especially those at high-risk. Raising awareness for homeless women and children will ultimately lead to more efforts being taken to help these families reclaim the chance for a better life, which is the greatest gift of all.