100 Suits For 100 Men Gives Underprivileged Men New Lease On Life

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100 Suits For 100 Men Gives Underprivileged Men New Lease On Life

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Kevin Livingston was sick and tired of watching underprivileged young men being ostracized by society and decided to do something about it. He firmly believed that by donning crisp, business suits, these high-risk youths would feel better about themselves and make positive changes in their lives. resulting in the lifting of the stigma that surrounded them. He founded 100 Suits for 100 Men in 2011. His mission: to help underprivileged men (and women) improve their role in society, build dignity and self-esteem, foster self-sufficiency, dispel stereotypes, and promote community involvement in order to build each other up.

1) What inspired you to start the organization?

I simply care about young people. Seeing young men in our city being ostracized or ignored for the way they look made me crazy. I’ve always loved the business world. My dad was an entrepreneur. When I was 15 years old, I got a red blazer and matching red socks, and I remember walking around the city in my suit feeling really good about myself. In 2011, I went to our community council and told them we needed to do something about helping young men. When they didn’t respond the way I’d hoped, I decided to take up the cause myself and came up with the concept of 100 Suits for 100 Men. At the bank I worked at, I set up a box in the lobby and asked my customers to donate their old suits. They responded so favorably that the number of donations spilled into the bank closets!  

2) Why is providing business attire so important for underprivileged men? What does this mean for their self-esteem?

I remember how important I felt when I would wear a suit. It changes the way you look and feel about yourself. I often go to active gang areas to donate business attire, and the men love it. It’s like a chain reaction. All it takes is one man wearing a suit and looking good. Suddenly he is not the same person he was before. Then his friends look at him differently and they want suits and they feel different. And this changes the way society looks at them. It really has a far-reaching effect.

3) What services do you offer? 

We have pop-up male boutiques all across the area, which offer high-risk men several free services, including a free suit, shirt, tie, tie-tying session, haircut and a one-on-one session with a mentor coach to discuss their current challenges. Many times we’ll go to places, such as the Bronx Courthouse, with suits, mentors and tailors, and find young men who are about to go before the judge. We’ll take them out of line, dress them and coach them for their courthouse appointment. We also have a database and follow up with our clients.

4) Can you share a particularly memorable success story?

I remember a young man, about 19, who came to me. He was in and out of homeless shelters, often getting into trouble, and had a child on the way. Fast-forward to today; he has just finished his GED, and is a working father who is living with his child’s mother. Success stories like this just fuel my efforts.

5) Do you plan to expand to other areas?

Definitely. There’s a massive expansion in the works for 2018. In fact, I just received some feedback from the mayor of Detroit. We’ve received donations from big celebrities. Colin Kaepernick just contributed 50 of his suits and donated over $30,000.

For more on 100 Suits for 100 Men, go here.

READ MORE STORIES THAT MOVE HUMANITY FORWARD

READ MORE STORIES THAT MOVE HUMANITY FORWARD

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