Hope Vibes Offers Life-Changing Help to Neighbors Experiencing Homelessness

By Derik Hicks

In the heart of Charlotte, a city experiencing rapid growth, there is the often overlooked hidden reality of people in our community who are experiencing homelessness. This is a world where sidewalks become makeshift beds, cardboard boxes and tents are shelters, and hope remains an elusive, fragile companion. Homelessness has been a persistent challenge in the Charlotte area.

As of May 2023, there are 3,162 people experiencing homelessness in Mecklenburg County, according to the county’s Housing & Homelessness Dashboard. The reasons for homelessness vary, and the solutions are equally diverse and debated, causing many to ignore this epidemic.

Amid this complex issue, organizations like Hope Vibes stand out as beacons of positivity. Founded in 2017 by husband-and-wife team, Emmanuel and Adrienne Threatt, Hope Vibes is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to empowering the homeless and spreading hope throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. One of their most inspiring initiatives is the Hope Tank, a mobile outreach truck that provides practical assistance and much-needed hope to the homeless community.

The origins of Hope Vibes

To understand the significance of the Hope Tank project, it’s essential to delve into the roots of Hope Vibes. The seeds of this organization were sown a decade ago during Emmanuel and Adrienne’s first date. As they walked though uptown Charlotte and saw people sleeping on the ground, they were deeply moved and vowed to “do more for our homeless neighbors.” This idea took root that evening, eventually blossoming into Hope Vibes.

The idea for Hope Vibes started when Adrienne wanted to help give dignity to homeless neighbors through access to personal hygiene products and services. Adrienne said she was deeply impacted by a video about women facing their menstrual cycle while living on the streets with no access to feminine hygiene products. This revelation galvanized the founders to take action.

A mobile beacon of hope

One of the organization’s long-standing goals was to create a mobile shower and laundry center to offer dignity to homeless neighbors in the Charlotte area. That vision became the Hope Tank, a project that took two years to raise funds and bring to life. A functioning reality until recently, the Hope Tank features two restrooms with toilets, sinks and showers adorned with uplifting artwork. (Unfortunately, as of November 2023, the Hope Tank cannot be found on the streets of Charlotte due to a lack of funding for necessary repairs.)

Guests of the Hope Tank enjoy privacy, safety and comfort in an environment that promotes dignity and hope, while giving guests a renewed sense of purpose.

“The interior was designed to be a moment of reprieve or retreat. It was designed to feel like home for an individual without a home,” Adrienne said. Every shower is a single stall, equipped with a sink and toilet. Hope Vibes volunteers also help with washing clothes in the provided washer and dryer. The Hope Tank travels throughout Charlotte, reaching areas where homeless neighbors congregate. It symbolizes hope on wheels.

The availability of these mobile showers is a much-needed convenience for people experiencing homelessness. “Many of the people living on the streets are preparing for job interviews or they already have multiple jobs,” Adrienne said. “We’ve encountered homeless people that are in school, attending (the University of North Carolina at Charlotte). They can’t go to school, show up for job interviews, or go to work with dirty clothes or smelling bad. Part of the trajectory of getting out of homelessness is healthy hygiene.”

Recently, an elementary school social worker contacted Hope Vibes because she reported 74 children experiencing homelessness in her school. “She reached out specifically to Hope Vibes to help them with laundry services—bringing the Hope Tank to the school or shelter, which has one washer and dryer for 100 families and rarely works,” said Emmanuel.

“It’s frustrating because this is a shelter that gets funding with probably a few million dollars budget. We’re a small nonprofit with a budget of $300,000 a year and we’re willing to do the work, but we don’t have the funding. Those kids are going to school and getting bullied because their clothes are dirty, and they stink.”

How you can help

Emmanuel and Adrienne Threatt, parents of four children, including one-year-old triplets, continue to work tirelessly to provide practical help for those experiencing homelessness in Charlotte. Their commitment is unwavering, but they need the support of the local community to sustain their efforts.

Hope Vibes is launching their most ambitious campaign, the Catalyst Campaign (donorbox.org/catalystcampaign), with the goal of raising $500,000. This financial infusion will help them to expand other programs like the HV Laundry Van, portable solar sinks, build HomeStead communities, and help get the Hope Tank back out on the streets. It’s a monumental task, but your support can help Hope Vibes fulfill its mission.

Adrienne said she lives by the mantra — “Do what you can with what you have until you are positioned to do more!”

To learn about various ways to contribute and make a difference, visit Hope Vibes at hopevibes.org.