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Impact Humanity makes a difference

What the boutique does for the homeless

Photo: Bobby Jones · The Sentry

Owned and operated by Travis Smith, Impact Humanity is the new face of Smith’s original brain child, Impact Locally. It’s a boutique fashion store off Welton in the Five Points neighborhood. Upon entry, the smell of fresh paint complements the modernly designed interior as customers feel they have entered an upscale clothier. Yet, Impact Humanity is not for the fashion-conscious consumer. It’s designed to create wholistic change by being the hand that pulls the destitute out of a cyclical poverty trap of being open—and they accomplish his in part by not having cash registers.

     Within three weeks, Impact Humanity has served a whopping 1,500 souls—about 150 a day in its four business hours. Those in need are seen lining the sidewalk prior to opening at noon Tuesday through Thursday. Here, there is intimate knowledge on the needs of the impoverished. “We only accept quality clothing,” Smith said. “If we wouldn’t wear it ourselves, we aren’t going to take it. Our goal here is to restore dignity.”

Impact brings in tailors and offers a measuring session to get serious interviewees into business suits. “What we want to do is get men (no offense, but 90 percent of the homeless are men) into a six to eight week program to success.”

   Smith displays incomparable compassion being a person who has dealt with his own brushes with homelessness at the height of the mortgage crisis. “People’s perception of the homeless is completely skewed,” Smith said. “They aren’t trash to be kicked around. They care about what they are wearing, and it isn’t just skin deep.  That’s why we offer internships to CU students and bring in paid counselors.” The backroom of the facility boasts large desks with several computers serving as an employment resource center for job seekers. Once they find a job, they are given a 10-day bus pass, and after that goal is met, a 60-day pass is awarded.

“I used to give out clothes with four of my friends in parking lots and I realized I needed to create something bigger.” Smith’s epiphany cultivated an interest in focusing on the supply side of homelessness rather than reacting to the demand side.

Denver homeless laws like the Urban Camping Ban criminalize the homeless for sleeping anywhere in the city. Violators receive egregious fines, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  “It’s hard to imagine that $999 fines aren’t the worst,” Smith said. “It’s the lack of education of the police and city representatives. When they do homeless sweeps, the cops give out a list with outdated numbers and think they’re helping. The city tells the homeless to talk to the cops, who tell the homeless to talk to the sheriff in a revolving cycle. Here at Impact Humanity, we started our own list of numbers that are actually in service and developed internal information that get people what they really need—assistance.”

Drop off donations are accepted any time at Impact Humanity. They are specifically requesting high quality men’s clothes, specifically jeans. Impact Humanity is member-funded and depends on donations. Donors can visit impactlocally.org to make their impact on humanity.

Impact Humanity

2526 Welton St

Tues – Thurs 12 – 5 p.m.

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