We had the good fortune of connecting with Emmanuel & Adrienne Threatt and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Emmanuel & Adrienne, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
One of our life mantras that carries over into everything we do is “Do what you can with what you have until you can do more.” It was a phrase I just heard out the blue in my heart one day, early in the initial phases of building our nonprofit. It’s a significant way of thinking that has become a lifestyle to us. When we started our nonprofit, we didn’t “have it all together.” We just had a burden to help people… to meet a gap in service for an underserved community of individuals. What we learned is that everything doesn’t have to be perfectly in place to get started. All the money doesn’t have to be there. All the resources don’t have to be there. Impact isn’t always grandeur. Start small and build from there. Even now, when starting now projects and programs, we don’t have to wait until all the pieces of the puzzle are put in place for the full picture to be realized. We build, step by step… and everything that is necessary to complete the assignment will be ready for us in the appointed time.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In 2017, Adrienne Threatt came across a video of homeless women sharing about dealing with their menstrual cycle while living on the streets. After watching numerous times, back to back, she decided to share the video on her Facebook page. To her surprise, her friends were just as shocked and outraged by what was shared as she was. This led to Adrienne, her husband Emmanuel, and a group of friends starting to take action to provide equitable access to healthy hygiene in marginalized communities of homelessness. We didn’t anticipate starting a nonprofit at that time, but as word began to spread in the community about the work we were doing, we realized the need to formally organize.

When Hope Vibes first began in 2017, we set out to bring awareness, hope & real solutions to the homeless epidemic in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region by providing dignity through personal hygiene products & conversations. We put a strong emphasis on the direct relief aspect in our infancy through monthly Serve Days, Hope Pop Ups & Laundry Days where we offered access to essential hygiene items for proper health & cleanliness & assistance with washing & drying personal clothing items. During these gatherings, we also made efforts to connect people with other resources in the city that seem to be a fit for their needs as discovered through conversation. We have continued to do so over the past 4 years.

Shortly after our origin, we began to see at greater lengths the inequitable access to proper hygiene & clean clothes for our homeless neighbors & others living in extreme poverty. Through various conversations with our neighbors experiencing homelessness, our assumptions were confirmed regarding the huge implications of not being able to consistently bathe & clean your clothes. It prohibits healthy living while also creating a major barrier when looking to acquire AND maintain jobs that will help a person transition out of homelessness. As a result, we developed The Hope Tank Project & started making plans for our first eco-friendly, mobile laundry & shower vehicle which was completed in October 2020. Our first vehicle has 2 full bathrooms, complete with shower, sink & toilet in each unit and a laundry room with 3 washer/dryer sets. Engineered in-house by our innovation team, The Hope Tank vehicle is the only vehicle in the nation designed to serve homeless communities that consists of showers, toilets, washers, dryers & on-board water supply. We are literally equipped to go anywhere our homeless neighbors are without being required to connect to an external source. We aim to ensure that every person currently living on the streets, in cars, in tent camps & shelters have access to the basic necessity of showers & clean clothes on a regular basis to support their personal health, dignity & forward progression out of homelessness.

In 2020, our innovation team also developed The Solar Sinks Project in response to COVID-19 outbreaks to provide solar hand washing stations. With World Health Organizations initially instructing everyone to stay at home, practice social distancing & wash hands frequently, we realized that most of our homeless neighbors just don’t have that option. Our Solar Sinks made provision for this major need. We are currently working with She Built This City, another Charlotte-based black-led nonprofit, in an effort to scale our prototype & make it available to more individuals in need.

We have launched the initial discovery phase of our HopeSteads Project to provide creative alternative housing options to people transitioning out of homelessness or at high risk. We have secured a land partner for our first prototype location & are beginning to receive seed funding for the project.

It has not always been easy, but our hard work and diligence to advocate for the people we serve is well worth it. We’ve often had to step out on faith and do things that seemed impossible or unrealistic to others. We’ve also had moments in our personal lives where while serving those experiencing homeless, we worried about the risk of becoming homeless ourselves. Systems that perpetuate middle class and low income citizens being stuck in cycles overpriced rentals and out of home ownership has plagued us in ways similar to that of our clients. However, our strong support systems helped us through those tough times to ensure we were never forced to live on the streets. Finding community, your “tribe” as many like to call it, is so necessary in the times we are living in.

One of the significant lessons we’ve learned along the way with regards to Hope Vibes is to remain focused on the people we serve. It’s not about money. It’s not about likes and follows. It’s about the people and helping them on their journey to re-launching their lives. When you stay mission-centered, everything you need to fulfill the mission will come to you.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are tons of amazing restaurants in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region. Too many to list actually but some of our favorites are Leroy Fox, Maria’s Mexican Restaurant (Ask for the birria tacos. They aren’t on the menu, but trust me, get at least two.), Snooze A.M. Eatery, Cowfish and the Shell Gas Station at the corner of South/East Blvd. The chicken is some of the best in Charlotte. We wouldn’t steer you wrong! Oh and RH Rooftop Terrace… the food is good but the ambiance is amazing.

Favorite locally owned coffee spot is Percantile Coffee & Creamery. Favorite tea spot is the Pauline Apocarthey Tea Bar.

Do some mural crawling. There’s some many amazing murals throughout the city. Try to find the most popular one and take selfies with all of them.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We’d like to shoutout Dr. Temeka Brantley. She was one of the primary individuals that encouraged us to step forward with the vision we had to serve marginalized individuals experiencing homelessness. In the early days of Hope Vibes as one of our founding board members, she helped us build structure for our board and she served alongside us on the streets of Uptown Charlotte. She wasn’t one of those people who push you to do something and then walk away. She walked WITH us as we birthed a movement that would impact the lives of many. Currently, she also serves as a professor in higher education training students and professionals in leadership and entrepreneurship. She also founded a nonprofit that provides hands-on training and mentorship for high school students with a entrepreneurial emphasis.

Website: www.hopevibes.org

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hopevibesclt/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/hopevibes/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HopeVibesCLT?s=20

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hopevibesclt/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQwUP_tsO7KirMz0cSMh-Dw

Other: TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@hopevibesclt?

Image Credits
Hope Vibes Inc.

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