I spent the last seven years in Manhattan as an ecommerce Product and Project Manager. While ecommerce provided great exposure to technology and business strategy, I always came home empty. Working 18-hour days on seemingly vacuous projects while others in this world lacked basic shelter, clothing and food never seemed right. I tried to assuage the purposelessness by tutoring math at a middle school on Saturday mornings, volunteering at a battered women home on holidays or donating to various charities, but it was never enough. I longed for my ‘day job’ to be just as fulfilling as my moonlighting activities.
Then a family medical issue and some much needed time off brought me to Houston on sabbatical for a few months. In this time, I started volunteering at the Beacon homeless shelter five days a week. My first day left me with a feeling I hadn’t experienced in the last seven years. I was paralyzed with anger by all the things I couldn’t do, but overwhelmed with joy by all the things I could. Suddenly I felt part of the solution instead of just a spectator. All my energy now goes toward a service instead of commodity. My ongoing experience at the Beacon reinforces that dedicated time and service go further than one-time donations.
Tell us a bit about who you are and the people you reach
Nearly 3.5 million people experience homelessness each year in the United States, The path to exiting a state of homelessness often involves appointments with a complex network of social, medical, employment, financial, and legal agencies. Missing an appointment means missing an opportunity to exit homelessness, so timing is of the essence. Unfortunately, a simple wristwatch can be luxury for someone without a home – yet vital to secure one.
Watch Over Me supplies homeless shelters with wristwatches for distribution to homeless persons. Partnering with the Beacon & Episcopal Homeless Initiative, the program that allows citizens to donate used watches (or cash towards the purchase of a simple wristwatch). We take both digital and analog watches, in working or repairable condition. For the safety of our clients, we trade any watches above a $15 value for cash and then purchase basic wristwatches. We'll also provide day planners so clients can track their appointments with various agencies and store contact information.
This organization will receive contributions from both individuals and corporations. I'm at the beginning of the social enterprise process, but the market is definitely professional. Once I have this up and running in Houston, it will scale to shelters across the country. Perhaps international one day!
Here are some thoughts, but please treat this as a blank canvas! I'm looking for the best idea, not just my idea.
- some kind of clock face in the logo?
- a mark that can stand alone from the organization name?
- must translate easy to all types of marketing collateral (cards, bags, planners, web, letterhead etc.)
- I've always imagined red and black, but that's just in my head. just simple color and black - not crazy multi-colors that will be hard to scale in the future
- an option with some integration of website domain as well (since it's not exactly the same as organization name)
Here are some designs I like:
- Salvation Army - simple, has the name in it so it achieves two things at once.
- Red Envelope (ok, I see that I just like the color red apparently)