Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
On their first date, what seemed like a really nice evening ended with Adrienne in tears. “We were walking around uptown,” Emmanuel says, “and I look over at her and she’s crying.” He wondered if he had done something wrong but Adrienne explained that her tears were for the person they had just passed who was lying on the street. Emmanuel was blown away. “I had never seen someone with such compassion for our homeless neighbors.”
As they dated and then married, Adrienne and Emmanuel did what they could to help. “We would go talk to them and show them love,” Emmanuel says. “We didn’t have a lot of resources but we showed them we cared.”
In 2016, Adrienne Threatt saw a facebook post that she felt compelled to share. It was a video about how difficult it is for women who live on the street to deal with their menstrual cycles. They often had to improvise and make their own tampons and pads because they could not afford to buy manufactured ones. Despite Adrienne’s long-standing compassion for people who are homeless and empathy for their struggles , she had never considered something as simple and basic as monthly feminine hygiene. She reposted the video, sharing her shock and looking to simply increase awareness and open minds to these kinds of challenges.
“She was posting for awareness,” Emmanuel says. But the responses from their friends were queries about how they could help. “It turned into rallying the troops.” Adrienne and Emmanuel started collecting items like tampons and pads, deodorant, and soap and distributing them to homeless shelters and other areas where homeless women were living. At first they simply collected individual donations, but eventually they established partnerships with churches and other non-profit groups.
When they saw the difference their hygene packs made in how a woman who is homeless feels, both about herself and the way she is perceived by society, they knew they were on to something. “It is often what they need to push through the day,” Emmanuel says. They created a nonprofit, Hope Vibes, that distributes — hygiene packs each week. Each pack contains deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, pads and tampons, as well as “hope cards” that are filled with words of encouragement.
Emmanuel and Adrienne think the hope packs are a way for them to show women who often feel devalued and invisible that they are loved and valued. “It seems like a small gesture,” Emmanuel says. “But when you give people back a little bit of dignity, it makes a huge difference.” Recently a woman approached them at a homeless shelter and gave them a bouquet of flowers. She thanked them for the deodorant they had given her each month.
“That deodorant was our currency for touching her life,” Emmanuel says. “It may seem insignificant, but it showed we cared.”
Adrienne, who now works full-time running Hope Vibes, and Emmanuel (who freelances as a data communications specialist) are hoping to finance a mobile laundry and shower vehicle. “That way,” Emmanuel says, “we could provide even more dignity on the streets.”
For more information about Hope Vibes, or to make a donation: