Habdash Gives Back
This is a very special blog post, because we want to premier a new product as well as introduce you to some amazing people who have recently come into our lives. It's a long one, but I promise it's worth the read.
Since the beginning of Haberashery, Ashli and I knew that eventually we wanted to be able to somehow use our business to benefit others. Then, when we were planning our line for Fall/Winter, we realized the perfect way to start making that part of our dream become a reality. Inspired by the style of adventurers, a talk about the homeless communities in Omaha at BarCamp last month, and the Tom's motto of One-For-One, we made a plan to find a way donate a beanie for every one of our brand new beanies that we sell!
To accomplish this, we had to find an outlet for donation. We spent a lot of time researching charities and had a hard time finding a place that we were really feeling pulled towards. For one thing, we didn't just want to give donations to a big organization that has no real face or personality. Plus it seemed like anywhere we looked into had some sort of rules and restrictions about how and who they help. So we dug a little deeper and came across a single article in Omaha.com dated April of 2014. It was titled, "Iowans' weekly trip to help homeless on Omaha's streets now a full-time passion," and we began to read about Table of Mercy Breakfast club. Comprised of three people (Mel and De Briles, and Scotty McDuff of Atlantic, Iowa) who have changed their lives to help those in need in our community.
We contacted them and they immediately responded and said that they were excited that we had found them. After some messages back and forth we planned to meet to get to know one another and to find out more about their mission. We met on a Monday morning at the Cracker Barrel after they had finished making a run to take clothing to the Open Door Mission. Immediately we were at ease in their presence, they were both very welcoming and sweet and made us feel like we were already part of their family. They blessed us with lunch and two hours of conversation.
They began by telling us about the roots of Table of Mercy Breakfast Club. It was started two and a half years ago by Scotty McDuff. He made one trip by himself and then reached out to Mel and De about joining him. "When we started out, they didn't want to talk to us. They didn't want to be touched." De talked about how overwhelming it was in the beginning and how it was hard to try to get to know the people they were helping.
One of the big reasons we at Haberdashery were drawn to working with them was that on their interview on Omaha.com, they made it clear that although they know they are doing God's work, they don't require anything from the people they are helping. "Telling them they have to pray with us, or listen to a sermon before they can be helped is like asking a dog to do a trick before getting a treat," Mel explained. Instead, they show them unconditional generosity and love no matter their race, religious beliefs, affiliations, and maybe most importantly, their addictions.
In order to get more support, they partnered with Takin' It to the Streets, ran by Bobby Dofner, a man who used to be himself homeless and an addict. They chose Takin' It to the Streets because they said that they wouldn't tell them how to do their work, which was important because they don't just help people one time but rather form long-term friendships. In fact, in every story they told, they remembered everyone's names and histories. "Some of them tell me," says Mel, "'I'm just so lonesome,' and that's hard to hear." Ashli and I were moved by how genuinely they care for the people they help, and that they take time to be more than just a helping hand, but a source of true emotional support.
Table of Mercy Breakfast Club meets early on Friday mornings in front of the Sienna-Francis House to serve food to the homeless of Omaha. For clothing, they sort through donations by hand for quality and then pack up their two vans and drop them off wherever they're needed. They take sandwiches and drive around to find hungry people out on the streets. Some days they have cookouts and serve more wholesome and delicious foods like "Hot dogs and Beanie-Weenies."
They also help move homeless campers out from areas that are needed for construction, like the banks around the Missouri river. It was shocking to hear what happens if they don't clear out of an area within a designated amount of time - city officials come into the camps and destroy all of their belongings to try to discourage them from returning. Mel said he's seen their tents being cut up with box cutters, wheels on bikes being bent so badly they can no longer be used, even trees being knocked over to destroy campsites. It was hard not to get emotional when hearing these horror stories. To know that they are being treated like pests instead of real humans who are forced to lose their homes over and over again is heartbreaking.
Besides the heavy talk, we got a chance to talk about our families, to tell them about Haberdashery and our goals, and to talk about their last family vacation to Las Vegas where De got a chance to Zip Line. "I just about had a heart attack," said Mel with a twinkle in his eye. It was such a wonderful experience meeting such amazing human beings, and Ashli and I both feel so blessed to have met them and to be able to partner with them.
We also want everyone to know that there are many ways to get involved. If you purchase a beanie from our store, we will donate a plain black beanie to Table of Mercy Breakfast Club, which will then be hand delivered to their "friends" in the homeless communities. We have also set up a way to donate through our website, through which 100% of the profits will be given to them in the form of a check every couple of weeks to a month. They are also open to volunteers! To contact them, you can visit their Facebook page - Table of Mercy Breakfast Club, or email Mel Briles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, if you are unable to donate or volunteer, consider helping them reach more people by sharing their page or this blog post. They said that one of the best ways to help them out is to get more exposure so that they can help make even more people aware of the pressing need in our community. Especially with the harsh midwestern winter approaching, supplies are needed now more than ever.
Peace & Blessings from a very humbled and grateful,
Breanna Louise Jones