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Sheltersuit: Inspiring, Connecting and Activating Those in Need


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During this year’s Member Seminar, WTC Twente introduced us to Sheltersuit, a non-profit organization whose mission is to keep the homeless warm. As we reflect on the year behind and all the reasons to be thankful, the WTCA hopes to bring attention to this important and inspiring mission.

Founded in 2015 by fashion designer Bas Timmer, Sheltersuit is a water- and windproof coat that can easily be transformed into a sleeping bag, providing full-body protection from elements all year round. Under his leadership the organization is launching a global mission to support local communities from Sarajevo to New York City, San Francisco to Amsterdam, and everywhere in between.

“We developed the Sheltersuit as a short-term solution for a big problem,” stated Bas Timmer, founder and designer of Sheltersuit. “Although it does not solve being homeless, it does prevent people from freezing to death. We believe every single human life matters and therefore everybody deserves a small shelter when they need one.”

Using materials donated by Dutch and European companies, Sheltersuits are made by volunteers, ex-homeless, unemployed, and refugees. Sheltersuit delivers a triple impact by helping those in need, creating jobs for those who need them, and reducing waste streams by using recycled fabrics, deadstock fabric, and repurposing insulation. These Sheltersuits are given away for free to those in need, with a full range of shelters to protect the homeless in both cold and warm climates. Each Sheltersuit comes with a water- and windproof jacket, an attachable sleeping bag, and a backpack to carry it during the day.

To date, Bas and his team have delivered more than 6,000 Sheltersuits around the world to refugees and the homeless across Amsterdam, Milan, Lesbos, Sarajevo, and Austin. Sheltersuit has also won several awards including the Dutch Design Week’s Public Choice Award in 2017, the German Design Award in 2018, and the Constructieve Rebellen Awards in 2019. This year, Sheltersuit has expanded to the U.S., presenting its mission at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin and donating Shelterbags to the homeless throughout the city using upcycled banners from the event itself, and engaging Ziel Inc. PBC for the production of all US products.

The organization’s goal for 2020 is to raise US $5 million to help 20,000+ homeless individuals in need around the world. To help those in need in the New York City area this winter, Sheltersuit will be partnering with Bridges, a Newark-based outreach organization that hands out supplies to the homeless located in Newark, Battery Park, and other locations around the tristate area. On December 3rd, Sheltersuit launched a campaign to receive donations from individuals and corporations for #GivingTuesday to bolster production in preparation for the winter season. Throughout the month of December, the organization distributed Sheltersuits to those in need throughout the tristate area and beyond.

To learn more about Sheltersuit, visit https://sheltersuit.org/ and view the video presentation from the 2019 Member Seminar. To make a donation, visit https://thenaf.org/sheltersuit/ and to learn more about how your company can get involved, email Noelani Reyes at noelani@sheltersuit.com. Also, you can follow the conversation through social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.