Local clothier partners with Vancouver Police Department to keep homeless warm

Delivery Day - Arc'teryx
Joanne Mayzes of local outdoor clothing and equipment manufacturer Arc’teryx helps a homeless man try on a cape made by volunteers with the company’s excess fabric on an outing with Const. Jodyne Keller, the Vancouver Police Department’s homeless outreach co-ordinator. Photo: Arc’teryx

Vancouver’s homeless may stay a bit warmer this winter with insulated capes supplied by a local outdoor clothing and equipment manufacturer and distributed by Vancouver police.

North Vancouver-based Arc’teryx conceived of the initiative they call the Birds Nest Project that has been providing capes to shelters and churches to distribute to Vancouver’s homeless population four years ago when the clothier was trying to find a use for excess fabric and lessen its carbon footprint.

New partnership with the Vancouver Police Department will put capes directly into the hands of city’s most vulnerable

This is the first year Arc’teryx has teamed up with the VPD’s homeless outreach program to give the clothing directly to homeless people in the community, and particularly the city’s most vulnerable citizens, who may not be able to access services in shelters or churches.

“As a B.C. company we know how brutal the weather can be,” said Joanne Mayzes, manager of corporate responsibility at Arc’teryx. “It’s part of what drives our design and our business.”

Const. Jodyne Keller, VDP’s homeless outreach co-ordinator, believes the project will help people living on the streets make it through the winter.

“To place these capes directly into the hands of those who need them most is significant,” she said. “Our primary goal … when we are engaging the homeless community is to make sure they’re safe.”

VPD will keep capes in patrol cars to hand out as they find people in need on Vancouver’s streets this winter

The police will be storing hundreds of these capes in the backs of patrol cars to hand out to the homeless community.

The weatherproof capes are made from material left over from the manufacturing process that would otherwise go to waste.

“[They] are designed and built from waterproof, insulated fabrics to protect some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Sgt. Randy Fincham.

Capes made from repurposed fabric scraps by employees volunteering their time

Arc’teryx has up to 80 employes volunteering their time to refashion leftover fabric into the capes at its Burnaby factory on weekends, and has already distributed more than 1,000 capes since the project started four years ago.

This year they hope to distribute 700 capes with the help of the police.

Because of the project’s success, Mayzes said Arc’teryx was considering eventually expanding the project to other cities, but currently its primary focus remains the Vancouver community.

Only one word to describe handing out the capes to vulnerable homeless population: touching

She described her first experience going out with Keller and giving out the capes to people in one word: touching.

“For us, it just got right to the roots of why we got out here, why we had so many employees that wanted to get involved in this,” Mayzes said.

Reported by Gillian Hames

In this video, Arc’teryx shows how the Birds Nest Project came to be, and what goes into making the capes the company has partnered with the VPD to distribute to Vancouver’s homeless this winter.

Arc’teryx Birds Nest Project

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