Man helps Jamaica suit up for new jobs

Photo by Rich Bockmann
By Rich Bockmann

Some people need a suit to wear to a job interview, while others need a job to interview for. Kevin Livingston has both ends covered.

The founder of 100 Suits for 100 Men was in his element as he set up shop on Parsons Boulevard in downtown Jamaica earlier this month with a clothing rack full of business attire donated by the estate of a self-made financier.

“Hey, brother, you need a suit?” he asked a passerby near the busy Parsons-Archer subway station. “Come take a look.”

A wool suit may be the last thing someone is think of during a heat wave, yet nonetheless a steady stream of young men perused the clothing racks, some eagerly, some with a little prodding from the community activist and his volunteers. Livingston said he is planing a similar event with women’s clothes.

“A lot of people are saying put something aside for me,” he said, explaining many were ashamed to accept charity.

Livingston, always dressed to the nines whether he is at his day job as a manager at Carver Bank or standing on a street corner decrying gun violence, sized up his prospects not only for pant lengths and jacket sizes, but also for their employment situations.

“It feels good; we’re creating more opportunity, coming out where they’re at,” he said. “If they need a suit, we’ve got that. If they need a job, I’ll help them enroll at the back-to-work program at Goodwill and guide them through the whole process.”

The Goodwill Store, at 92-31 Union Hall St., offers help with résumé building, networking skills and job placement.

According to the state Department of Labor, Queens’ unemployment rate in May was 7.4 percent, down from 8.4 percent a year earlier.

Kristin Bergfeld, of Bergfeld’s Estate Clearance Service, provided Livingston with more than 100 articles of clothing once owned by a well-known Wall Streeter.

“You’d know him if I told you his name,” she said.

The mystery man came from humble beginnings in Brooklyn and, with little formal education, made a career in finance and became a generous philanthropist, Bergfeld said.

After clearing out the client’s closet, Bergfeld furnished Livingston with 23 business suits, 83 neckties, 94 dress shirts, nine sports shirts, eight pairs of shoes, three sports suits, 42 pairs of trousers and 32 belts. It took a little more than an hour to hand out the entire wardrobe.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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