By Naeisha Rose
Several young men received free suits and lessons on standard knots for ties at a pop-up shop organized by 100 Suits For 100 Men in Jamaica in front of Jamaica Multiplex Cinemas on 159th Street last week.
100 Suits For 100 Men is a Jamaica-based non-profit that fits at-risk youth and formerly incarcerated men with suits and ties, according to the organization.
Some of the officials at the Nov. 2 event included state Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) and City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest).
“There are a lot of young people who have never owned a suit in their life,” Lancman said. “They have to go out into the world and get a job and if you show up to a job and you are not appropriately dressed, or someone is dressed better, you are at a disadvantage.”
“Everyone should have the opportunity to put their best foot forward,” Lancman said. “It’s somewhat unfair that we are judged for our appearances. Let’s eliminate that for young people or anyone trying to get a job.”
Showing the young men how to do a standard knot was the founder and president of 100 Suits For 100 Men, Kevin Livingston.
“This means everything,” Livingston said. “The suit is just the start. The main thing is just talking to our young people and make sure that they are doing the right thing.”
Hyndman beamed as she watched the young men try on the suits from the non-profit, which has been around for five years.
“Kevin Livingston sees the need in our community that young black men, and black men need period, which is a basic necessity as a suit and tie,” Hyndman said. “What he is doing fills a need and we have to make sure that we support it.”
One of the 17 men who received a suit at the pop-up was Latiece Santiago, 14, who attends John Adams High School and lives in the 40 Projects in South Jamaica.
“I feel good because I feel professional,” Latiece said as he wore his suit with pride.
Even though he doesn’t know what type of job he wants in the future, he hopes that the suit will open doors for him.
“I’m just trying to get a summer job,” Latiece said. “It doesn’t matter where I work.”
The family of Ken Thompson, New York’s first black district attorney who died last year, donated one of the suits, according to Livingston.
“You don’t understand the greatness you walk in,” said Livingston as he pointed out the significance of the suit. “That suit exonerated somebody from prison.”
At the end of the event he made only one request of the young men as he went over standard knots.
“I’m going to show you how to tie a tie, “ Livingston said. “The only thing I need for you is that one day you show somebody else.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose