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Fashion with a Focus:

A fun night celebrating human determinations, and putting face to homelessness

November 13, 2017

On Nov. 4, Fashion with a Focus was held at the Tacoma Glass Museum. It was a night of celebrating human creativity and bravery, showcasing how determination and human will could bring success into a homeless person’s life. Proceeds from the fashion show went to support Pierce College Foundation.

Fashion with a Focus began with friendly conversations between Gregory Marks and Veronica Reed. Both are Pierce alumni and came up with an idea of having a fashion show to bring understanding and hope in communities, to support friends and neighbors in need, and to bring people together from all walks of life. The event was organized by Greg, with help of Dr. Paul Gerhardt, and PC community, and sponsored by Plato’s Closet.

In this cold weather, some of students at Pierce are homeless and looking for shelter. Marks, the founder of Right Now Today, recalled the times when he was a homeless himself. He remembers asking “Where am I sleeping tonight? Where is the driest place that I could find and not freeze?”

Roxanne Cassidy, Opportunity Grant Coordinator for the Puyallup campus, was one of the guests that night. She said, “I work at the Puyallup Campus so I know that many of the students I have specifically worked with in the last few years been homeless.”

Michele Johnson, the Chancellor of Pierce College District, also came to support the event. She said, “It’s really great that Greg as an alum of our college and a business management advisory committee member would take this on. I think he clearly understands the challenges that our students have with financial resources they need to not be homeless, to have the dollars that they need to pay for the book, and the tuition they need to stay in school.”

Xola Malik, a local musician, kicked off the show. Before performing, he challenged guests by asking, “What does homelessness look like in OUR community?” As he looked around the room, he answered to the silent faces, “I am the face of homelessness.”

Kendi Fresh, Xola’s son and an aspiring musician, performed with his dad. Before they were done, just about everyone in the lobby were moving with the beat.

Cosmos, a band from Seattle, also shared words of encouragement through their music as well.

Then it was time for the show. Students from Pierce came walking out looking fabulous and confident, wearing clothes on loan from Plato’s Closet.

Nancy Jornlin, the owner of Plato’s Closet Tacoma, worked behind the scenes to help put the fashion show together. She said, “What we were conscious of was trying to make all different body and styles and shapes feel very comfortable of what they chose to wear.”

Jornlin, when asked if the show was successful, she said, “I think the success was seeing the Facebook post, talking to the people that were there, and how we need to get involved and make change.”

Jornlin indicated her 16-yr-old son, one of the guests that night. She watched him lean in as the guest speakers were sharing there stories. He told her later the impact that it had, that it was a great event where all generations from all different backgrounds could come together to be encouraged, and to be inspired.

This was a great opportunity for people with all kinds of talents, and many students were encouraged to be involved for greater cause. “It shows what can be done, what students can do,” Marks said.

After the Fashion show, people all gathered back in the lobby to hear Dr. Paul Gerhardt, Greg Marks, and Erin Jones, a politician and an advocate, speaking about hope. Greg showed a picture of boiling water. “The boiling point of water is 212°…211°  is 1 degree away from success.

During her speech Erin Jones shared her story, a nine-year old orphan girl who decided to make the world a better place. She recalled meeting the princess of Egypt during lunch when the Princess told her, “You are the world changer,” she added, “When a real princess pointed at you and says, you are a world changer, you believe her because she’s a princess!”

And she dared all the people at the lobby by saying, “Being average is absolutely simple.” She continued, “I dare you to be great. Greatness requires doing what other people won’t do.” She then added, “Do not allow the things that seek to defeat you to stop you from pursuing your dreams, not even homelessness.”

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