There’s an assumption of affluence when you tell people you grew up in Westchester, posited David Heath, Co-Founder and CEO of Bombas, and keynote speaker for the 914 Cares 4th Annual Westchester Poverty Symposium which brought together non-profit leaders in March to discuss strategies and solutions toward ending poverty. “But when you peel back the onion, we see different layers–and not all affluent.”
And, for many, far from.
In introducing Heath at the White Plains event, Jessica Reinmann, 914 Cares CEO and chairman, Reinmann opined that she considers Heath ‘the Derek Jeter’ in the business of giving, noting that Bombas was “just a few months away from donating its 100th million items of clothing” since its inception, its greatest focus… socks, the most requested item in homeless shelters, said Heath, who described his lightbulb moment as an executive: “that Bombas could donate a pair of socks for every pair of socks sold.” Today, the company works with over 3500 ‘giving partners’ such as 914 Cares across 50 states to achieve its astounding success.
And like the people behind 914 Cares and other service organizations represented at the White Plains March event addressing this lesser known aspect of poverty – ‘clothing insecurity’ and its negative impact on the self esteem of children — Heath said the quality of the product is critical too, and that Bombas takes special measures toward that end. “We want the person to experience the same level of quality and joy that we were delivering to our paying customers.” Reinmann later reenforced a similar concept, one central to the 914 Cares mission, focusing “on the dignity of the recipient.”
914 Cares described the Symposium as “an annual opportunity for thought leaders… to share innovative ideas about community-driven partnerships.” “The event is all about connection, and learning how we can work together to share ideas and resources to improve the lives of our neighbors in need,” said Reinmann.
Along with Heath and Reinmann, the other panelists were Lynn Margherio, Founder/CEO, Cradles to Crayons; Nichole Culotta, Program Manager, 914 Cares; Ana Maria Fritsch, Bedford Central School District; and Matthew Fasciano, President & CEO, Delivering Goods. Later in the program, a final panel focused on Food Insecurity. Faith Butcher, Chief Impact Officer of United Way of Westchester shared highlights of that organization’s annual ALICE report. The panel also featured Daniel Bonnet, Chief Program Officer, Carver Center; Rick Rakow, founder of Rakow Commercial Realty & Board Member, Feeding Westchester; Erica Youngren, Full Plates Coalition Chair, County Harvest; and Chris Dapolito, Store Manager of DeCicco and Sons.
As Margherio noted in the first half of the panel: “It’s comforting to know there are so many kindred spirits in the fight to end clothing insecurity in children.”
For more information visit 914Cares.org