Volunteer Stories

“There’s no perfect time to give back” – Interview with Alyssa Patuel from Indochino

 

“There is no perfect time to give back…” says Alyssa Patuel from Indochino. “At Indochino we give away all the garments that we cannot sell anymore, we don’t want to see them end up in landfills.”

We sat down with Alyssa from Indochino, who invited us to their Vancouver headquarters. We got the opportunity to chat about how they got involved with Working Gear, and also about their initiative to discard garments in a sustainable manner. Doing this has resulted mutually beneficial. Partnerships that rewarded everyone involved – our sponsors, the organization and most importantly, the individuals we serve.

Working Gear is grateful to the many corporate partners who have helped our organization serve approximately 1,000 clients per year. 

How did Indochino get involved with Working Gear? 

We had a deep need for donating the garments that we couldn’t resell as a company, and we wanted to make sure that these garments found a good home. At the same time we wanted to find a non profit that aligned with Indochino’s corporate vision on inspiring confidence. So when we found out about Working Gear (WG), we were inspired by the organization’s initiative about giving people a second chance and providing them with the tools they need to get back on their feet. It was actually like a perfect partnership and we feel really good about it.

What do you do as Operation Specialist at Indochino? 

In my department we make sure end of life of product is taken into account. So that’s why the donation of the garments is so important. If we were to discard the garments, we want to make sure that those are discarded sustainably. And fortunately we don’t discard the garments, we donate everything. Which is a huge initiative for the company and for my department. At Indochino we give all the garments we cannot sell anymore, we don’t want to see them end up in landfills. 

So we know you donate a lot of garments, but you also you encourage other people working at Indochino to volunteer. How did this initiative start? 

When I initially got involved with WG I wanted to find out what the organization needed in order to perform their operations and how they could potentially grow. Their needs were primarily financial of course, and secondarily they needed resources in terms of personnel. Financial, they had their Gear to Give annual gala call out to raise funds for. We had a sample sale and raised some funds and also donated a custom made suit for their auction. And in terms of personnel, I knew we had great people working here, and there was interest in getting involved with the community. I spoke to Sarah at WG about doing a monthly volunteer session with our people here at Indochino and it started going so well, people were having such a great experience. After having such a great turnout, I started making posters to call out for more volunteers and I found out that people wanted to come more often. Then I started going once a week and when I started going, people wanted to come with me. 

I feel like it has changed my life to get out on the community more and I think it has made a difference in the people that had come out, I definitely encourage it strongly as an initiative in the workplace.

Since you’ve been volunteering, what do you think about Working Gear?

I think WG creates a safe space for people that come straight up from the street, even though it’s not something they encourage but they do accommodate it. I think the heart and soul of that is Sarah, the Operations Manager who runs it. Through their referral program they provide clothing to people that wouldn’t necessarily have the resources to get those next steps. 

It really transforms the life of people when they put on a suit or when they have the gear they need to go to that job. I feel so fortunate myself, I can’t imagine that feeling of pitching out and not feeling adequate and I think clothing does that for people. There’s been a couple of instances when we give guys clothing and they are like: “this is so amazing; you just don’t know what this means for me”. And they are so thankful, and I can only think that what they do is also great, you know showing up, being the person they are and taking advantage of this program. I don’t think it’s easy to take charity. I feel so privileged to be in this position and to be able to give back.

What would you say to others that could join as sponsors or volunteers? 

Sometimes I think people wait for the right time to give back, I think there is no perfect time. Anytime you can, anything really makes a difference. There is no perfect time to give back. At the end of the day we are all people and we have these similarities. 

You just have to show up, you’ve got to hold them, you’ve got to be a person to them. Sometimes you get older gentlemen, and I got to help them tie their shoes. There are other needs like hairdressers, socks, shoes, so any other company that wants to step up and provide help should reach out directly to the organization. 

 

We’d like to extend our sincere gratitude to Alyssa for reaching out to us. For putting in the volunteer hours every week and for encouraging her team to do so as well. You are a valuable member of our community. 

Also, we’d like to extend our gratitude to Indochino for their continued support over the years. 

Working Gear is always in search of like-minded companies to develop partnerships with. For more information on how you can get involved contact us at info@workinggear.ca

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