According to the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative Point-In-Time survey, as of January of 2015, 6,130 individuals were experiencing homelessness in the seven county Metro Denver area.
Of those counted, 37% were women and 49% of “households” were families with children. Additionally, 25% of the individuals surveyed were newly homeless, meaning they have been homeless less than a year and this is their first time to experience homelessness.
Every woman’s story is different, thus every woman who finds herself homeless will have come to this situation for a different reason – some of which include a history of felonies, incarcerations, and addictions. Others include mental health disorders, personal family tensions, and job insecurities.
No matter, 67% of the women who have a history of felony, incarceration or addiction will relapse in 3 years if there is no community intervention and they are not given a chance to succeed*.
After mentoring a woman coming out of prostitution and addiction, Beth Massey watched as she was not able to find a job for several months during their mentor relationship. Then, when the woman relapsed back into doing drugs and working on the street, Beth couldn’t help feeling that if her mentee had been employed, she would have made different choices.
At the time, Beth had twins and, as someone who cares deeply for the environment, was growing weary of using a seemingly endless number of plastic bags. So she decided to start making her own reusable bags, and she hired her first employee – a woman coming off of the streets.
Thus began Mission Wear.
Beth saw a need and jumped at the opportunity to bring healing and hope to struggling women across the Denver area. Since 2006, Missions Wear has served as a Denver-based non-profit sewing business that hires women facing a variety of obstacles to employment.
At Missions Wear, the women work to create reusable products: laptop bags, totes and messenger bags among other great products; all made from upcycled materials like marketing banners, denim, T-shirts, burlap coffee bags and now repurposed bike tires; as well as other fabrics from interior designers; all fabrics that would otherwise be landfill!
Beth and the entire Mission Wear community have a passion to care for creation while providing a place for women who are in recovery and need an opportunity to begin building their confidence and sometimes for the first time, a job history. The women are hired because they have a past, making Mission Wear a safe place for women to re-enter the workplace.
Thanks to your support, Mission Wear recently relocated to a larger warehouse with more and improved resources and supplies. Because of their larger space, Mission Wear has been able to employ an increased number of women! This is great news.
The Mission Wear community believes that we are called to care for our earth just as we are called to care for one another.
It all begins with one woman, and one bag.
* Berkley School of Law Center for Social Justice, December 2008