I got a lovely gift last week from a friend. It’s this great soap that smells amazing.
And don’t you just love getting ‘real’ mail? I do.
Here’s what super cool about the soap: that single bar of soap provides funds for public transit for four days, allowing a person experiencing homelessness to job hunt.
It comes from Just B, a non-profit bath and beauty company in Arizona run almost entirely by homeless individuals.
See? Super cool.
The model of countering poverty with jobs has traction in a variety of contexts. Just B is doing it with people without homes, Homeboy does it with gang members, Empowering Lives International does it in Africa. Over and over, job training that provides tangible skills and the dignity of work helps people overcome very difficult situations.
The reason for this is more than practical; it’s theological. God created humanity to work. People are working the land in the garden before sin enters the picture. The creator designed creatures to reflect God’s own nature by also being creative, by making things that allow us to sustain ourselves.
Some of us make tangible things–food, books, computer parts, ledgers. Some of us make intangible things, environments, experiences, or events. In parenting, we help create a healthy, independent, kind adult out of the kid God gave us.
Whatever your job, you create something there. When we work, we fulfill God’s intention for us in a very important way.
An everyday advocate can support people who are claiming their God-given role as a worker.
It’s as simple as finding an organization that is providing job training for the poor and supporting them. For instance, you can google “products made by ________ ” and fill in a population that is important to you, such as the homeless or women in developing countries.
Here’s what you might find:
- Just B also carries candles, lotions, and has pre-packaged gift baskets for him and her.
- Several companies represent artisans who make jewelry, handbags, scarves and more, such as Raven and Lily.
- Larger Fair Trade organizations like Trade as One or Ten Thousand Villages let you search for a variety of products, including food, art, tableware, frames, and more.
- As far as I can tell Homeboy is the only option if you want to fill in the blank with ‘gang members.’ If you’re making shirts for something, they have a silkscreen company that ships anywhere. Also, their salsa (sold at Ralph’s in southern California) is awesome.
What other companies do you know of? I’d love more suggestions!
* Photo credit: Triple Max Tons