"People treat me like I'm some type of free loading drug addict. Like, I've never done drugs and barely even drank alcohol in my whole life. I had a full time job.... it didn't pay much but I worked and I try my best. My mom got sick, I had to take care of her and lost my job because I kept taking time off. It got really hard and I don't have any other family here. My friends were doing their best to hold down their own lives so what was I supposed to do?" - Diana S. Resident of Susan’s Place 2013 - 2014
4 years ago I began my relationship with Care for the Homeless as a volunteer wardrobe stylist for the Annual Health Empowered Beauty Fashion Show. In my first year as a volunteer stylist I put castings and fittings together and called on my contacts in the fashion industry to join me in giving the Women of Susan's Place the closest experience to high-end fashion show as I possibly could. As you may imagine when dressing complete strangers you tend to get pretty close pretty fast and that's when I began to get to know these women. So many times we equate adult homelessness with drug addicts, mental cases and laziness. More often than not those assumptions are very far from the truth. Many of these women are reflections of me, of you, our friends and our family, they are the cashier at the grocery store who speaks to you with a smile ever time you walk in and the women with a bit of sadness in her eyes that you notice on your daily commute. During preparations for the show, in those moments of intimacy, (I'm pretty sure my hand was literally down the back of one of their shirts pinning and adjusting when) I realized that these are the stories that have to be told in order to make change in the way adult homelessness is widely viewed.
After my first year as a volunteer stylist in 2014 and having a great success, with the show, Care for the Homeless (CFH) asked me to return as producer for the 2015 Health Empowered Beauty (HEB) fashion show. Honored and beside myself with optimism, knowing this would be an opportunity to expand and upgrade the prominence of the HEB fashion show, I happily accepted. Within weeks I pitched the idea for the Women of Susan’s Place (WofSP) campaign, as a way to expand and engage with our audience. My higher ups the loved the idea, they were all for it but of course there was a catch... no budget and limited assistance. If I truly wanted to do this, I had to get it done myself. One thing I have learned - maybe learned the hard way is the fact that as an entrepreneur you need to learn many things to get anything done. Determined, I packed up my camera, got creative and did it myself! I knew how important producing this type of campaign would be, not only as promotion for the HEB fashion show, but also for the mission of CFH as a whole and of course the ladies we represent residing in Susan’s Place (SP). Offering the ladies of SP a platform to tell their story in their own words was an opportunity to assist in healing, finding the strength within themselves to speak their truths and being honored for showing the courage to share. I recruited volunteer makeup artist to come in work a lil magic, making the vulnerability of standing in front of a camera and telling your business (willingly of course) 'A Bitt Moore' more fun. Each of the ladies received a finished photo of themselves as a thank you for participating and a reminder that they are worth it! We had a packed house for our 2015 show; sharing the stories of these women was one more step closer to our goal.
Moving forward to the 2016 show and my second year as producer, our team of volunteers aka the HEB Planning committee continued to grow, gaining more focus and dedicated members. The HEB Planning Committee consists of professionals from various industries that generously take time out of their lives to aid us in the mission to end homelessness one show at a time - We are always accepting new dedicated members, email me if you’re interested! Preparation for the 2016 show offered another chance to get some traction going with the WofSP campaign. Having put the campaign together myself the first time around gave the team a working prototype to build off of, making the request for assistance much easier. I made sure our committee members knew they'd be collaborators on this project - if contributing their time and talents to this project could help them in their endeavors in anyway I was open to the exchange. Graphic designer Leah Einarsen, students MUD Makeup Designory school and Ada Rojas of All Things Ada (one of our Influencers) joined me to help with the 2nd edition of the Women of Susan’s Place campaign.
The New Year brought in a new group of residents to SP, these ladies carried with them very impactful stories they were more than willing to share. With the planning committee by my side we finally started to pick up some traction for the campaign and the show over all. In that 2016 we sold out our show and we're featured on NY1 and CBS News.
Now moving into the 5th year of the show, my 3rd year as a producer and the 3rd year of the WofSP campaign, I'm consistently in awe of seeing our hard work working! We have a new group of ladies in the show which means our ladies from previous years are continually being placed in permanent housing. We have ladies who've walked in the show in previous years coming back to participate once again, showing the current residents it does get better and this night is for them so have fun and enjoy every moment! Our committee is growing and more well-known brands such as Carol’s Daughter, Fresh, Eloquii, Soul Cycle, and Voss Water to name a few are joining us in our fight to end homelessness one runway show at a time.
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS!!
This year’s show takes place at the beautiful Mezzanine NYC on Monday October 2nd doors open at 6pm, show starts at 7pm.
Join us for a lively show with a great cause!
Buy your ticket and check out the 3rd edition of the WofSP campaign here!