T-shirts featuring homeless people could forge link on campus, students say
University of Washington student Johnny Hayes said when he sees homeless people on the street, he generally tries to avoid them.
“I feel like a lot of homeless people have had a lot of bad luck and ended up losing homes, jobs and families, but I don’t really stop to think about their stories when I see them,” Hayes said.
Hayes could be the target market for a new project from Seattle Union Gospel Mission. Through their new clothing brand, “Others Like Us,” the nonprofit homeless services provider is trying to raise money for its programs while fighting the stigma of homelessness.
Others Like Us is a line of T-shirts and hoodies, some of them bearing the images of the homeless, which are available for purchase online.
“When we talk about the homeless there is a sense that we distance ourselves from them, but when you get an opportunity to know them you learn that such treatment makes them start to lose their sense of humanity,” Union Gospel Mission President Jeff Lilley said.
Hayes said he feels this brand will benefit homeless people through promoting understanding. It will also benefit the people who buy this clothing by broadening their perspectives and giving them a chance to give back to those in need in their community.
Another UW student, Jay Manaois said he believes that clothing is a good way to spread this message because something as simple as a T-shirt can be a daily reminder about homelessness.
That’s exactly what Sharon Thomas, spokesperson for Union Gospel Mission, has in mind.
“We hope to break the perception that homeless people are somehow different from us by telling individual stories and showing the human element,” she said.
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