SECOND TAKE: Jordan Berriér – The Sweatshirt Drive

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Tualatin's own Jordan Berriér using his helping hands to help keep people warm

Jordan Berriér is a go-getter. When he sets his mind to do something, it gets done. He’s done it on the basketball court, he’s done it in business, and through his commitment to his vision he has created a massive amount of support for a cause he really cares about.

When he read stats about local homeless people dying of cold in the harsh winter of 2015/2016, he wanted to do something about it. He thought he could make a difference, and so he did by creating a Sweatshirt Drive to offer warm clothing to our local homeless population.

Jordan doesn’t think small on any level, so why should helping the homeless be any different? Why did he launch this effort and how did he do it? The following Q & A with Jordan gives insight as to his mindset.

JC – What motivated you to do this?

Jordan – “In early 2016, Tualatin was hit with a flurry of snow. I remember being stranded at the Martinazzi Starbucks because my Camry wouldn’t climb the slight incline on Boones Ferry. I was one of many people stranded until roughly 9pm that night. Another gentleman, dressed in business clothes, walked to Fred Meyer’s and bought jeans, a T-shirt, and casual shoes just to be comfortable while he waited for the roads to clear.

That event made me think about those that don’t have an eventual home to return to. Or, they don’t have an opportunity to buy new clothes for warmth or comfort. As I sat in that Starbucks, I thought about the incredible network of companies that I work with. I thought possibly I could get their involvement to do something with great impact. It was just an idea at first, but companies in the area were very receptive to the idea.”

 

Tualatin's own Jordan Berriér
Tualatin’s own Jordan Berriér

JC – How has it scaled up in these three years?

Jordan – “In the first year, I marketed it with a simple email blast and walked doorto-door with posters. 38 companies gave 1,700+ articles of clothing that year. We had the same model the next year, and we had 40 companies donate 2,000+ articles of clothing.

In the third year (2018), we changed our plan. We had custom Donation Boxes printed to place at companies, and we walked into nearly every business park in Tualatin, Wilsonville, Canby, Aurora, and Woodburn. The boxes, along with walking into nearly 500 businesses, really ramped up the effort. As a result, we had 86 companies donate 4,000+ articles of clothing. And, the shelters we supported increased from 1 in 2016 to 5 large shelters from Woodburn to Beaverton. The area and scope of impact has grown so much.”

JC – What is the most gratifying aspect of this mission?

Jordan – “My perception of homelessness is so much different now than it was 3 years ago. After visiting each of these shelters personally, it was incredible to learn how many families suffer homelessness at some point, many temporarily, others for several months. The majority of people at these shelters had jobs and children that went to school each day. In fact, they would be hard to pick out of a crowd at school because they’re just like you or me, but they need a hand up while they fight through a difficult spot in life.

One example is the Salvation Army Veteran and Family Center in Beaverton, which houses 100 families. There are another 30 families on the waiting list. This shelter, because of its high capacity, receives most of the items we collect. But still, after a full 17foot U-HAUL of warm clothing is dropped off, those items are distributed and used within 3 months. This is how big the need is. And, it is a great feeling that we are getting more and more support to help these families.”

Donation Boxes at JAE
Donation Boxes at JAE

JC – How has the concept been received by local donor businesses?

Jordan – “Businesses love helping on the project because it is a great morale boost
for the whole company. In many cases, companies treat it like an event or friendly competition. One company, JAE, had each shift compete to donate the most coats. This was fun, but also super effective. One worker bought new clothes from a K-Mart that was closing. It was incredible to see the generosity that came from every level of the company. For any company looking to give for Christmas next year, I think this is a great vehicle to do good and feel good. Plus, we manage all the logistics.”

Jordan’s efforts are clearly remarkable and the results, which is what drives Jordan, were simply extraordinary. The scale of this project has grown exponentially because of the vision of one person. He has made a positive influence on people’s lives. I can’t think of a better example of local exceptionalism.