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Patrick Young / Founder and Executive Director of SHARP Men

Barbara's Flower Shop

By Taroue Brooks

Tell us about your organization. 

SHARP Men, we are a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization which offers professional attire and resources for men trying to overcome workforce barriers to employment. 

What inspired you to help the men in the community?

After serving 13 years and 9 months in Prison, for Armed Robbery, I know first hand on what is needed when you’re trying to start your life over.  Your self-esteem is already low, then you have to beg and borrow clothing and shoes to just be seen as normal. There are multiple programs that help women but for men there is very little.

Patrick Young, who has worked with work-readiness and reentry programs in New Orleans, spearheaded the idea after realizing there was nowhere to send men who needed a suit to look their best in job interviews but couldn’t afford department-store prices.

What reasons do you feel that people have decided to support you and your mission?

I believe one of the main reasons why people have decided to support me and my mission is because I work from experience. The people know me, my family, my struggles and also my willingness to help. I’m relatable as to what was and to what someone can be if they really want to change.

Another reason people support this work because its new and needed, there are countless programs that assist women in need of resources but very few offer assistances exclusively for men. Which creates an environment of gender inequity?

Tell us about your men’s brunch that you hosted in New Orleans.

Bowties and Bourbon Men’s Brunch hosted by SHARP Men New Orleans

August 17, 2019 at the Windsor Court Hotel. The Brunch had four main objects.

  1. To create a space for men to celebrate and collaborate personally and professionally
  2. To promote positive self-care and self-awareness for Men’s Health both mentally and physically
  3. To motivate and encourage men in New Orleans to step out in classic style with a classic spirit
  4. To promote Collective Impact, With the right number of men in the room Collectively we can accomplish something that needs to be corrected.

The impact item of the event was to raise funds which will be utilized to provide suits to young men when they are released from local juvenile detention centers.  SHARP’s approach to reducing recidivism for youth involved in the criminal justice system is simple, by changing the look, we begin to change the outlook, and the outlook will change the outcome. 70% of males in the New Orleans Juvenile System will re-offend in less than 18 months. Our approach is to attack the identity of the person, if we can create a positive sense of self, then we can change the trajectory of those boys and produce great men, looking for style not looking to steal.

The inaugural theme of our event, “Iron Sharpens Iron” reflects a mutually beneficial relationship between two iron blades working to together to become more effective and efficient with their task of cutting and slicing objects.  Hence, SHARP Men New Orleans operates as a “double-edge sword” where participants continuously sharpen one another through peer mentoring; personal development and professional engagement opportunities. 

What has been the most rewarding aspect of providing the much-needed help to the community?

The most rewarding part of this work, is seeing that the idea actually works. The work goes beyond attire, the suit is just an extension of added value, when men begin to value themselves and their community, they are less likely to destroy themselves nor the neighborhood they live in.

What kind of help do you need to continue fulfilling your mission?

Because we are a new organization, we just need resources and support to acquire a space to formally accept and distribute donated clothing. Right now, I pick up, clothing and pass out to individuals out of my car.

What advice would you give someone who has been incarcerated and working hard to get acclimated back into the community?

The first thing is to do a self-analysis, for instance after so many miles on the road a car has to come in for a service check, well if someone has been apart of society for a while the best advice is figure out what happened why it happened and know why it will never happen again. Getting out isn’t always the challenge its learning how to productively move forward


Where do you see your organization in the next five years?

Dress for Success is a Network of 150 cities and 30 Countries that service over 1 million women, my organization is 20 years behind, but in 5 years I see the organization and operations expanding across the country. It is a must that we recognize just how important image and identity play in the lives of successful healthy men, who aspire to build wealth for their families and give back to their communities

Patrick Young | Founder – Executive Director

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Patrick is an educator, businessman, organizer and advocate who is dedicated to serving his community. 

Fulfilling a Need

Sharp Men New Orleans, started in February 2019, is the male counterpart to Dress for Success New Orleans, an organization that has been providing professional attire for job-searching women since 1999.

Patrick Young, who has worked with work-readiness and reentry programs in New Orleans, spearheaded the idea after realizing there was nowhere to send men who needed a suit to look their best in job interviews but couldn’t afford department-store prices.

“We want that interview suit to give them a level playing field so that when they go to that interview, they are on the same level as the next guy, that there is no difference between who they are and somebody who has money in their pockets, our motto is your first impression is your first advantage. “We all know clothes make us, make the person. If we feel confident when we are walking into the interview, the rest is history.”

 With the help from Kevin Hart and his Charity Help from the Hart, he created SHARP Men New Orleans. The nonprofit, which only accepts referrals from partnering agencies, and works with clients by appointment only. We also provide clothing for men who are homeless, veterans and young men who are housed in juvenile detention centers.

The clothes are a mix between new and donated items. Some come from surplus stock at clothing stores, including K&G, Men’s Wearhouse, Brooks Brothers, Dillard’s, Macy’s and XXL. Others are privately donated by families.

“When you know you look good,” he said, “you feel good. And if you are looking good and feeling good, you talk better and you perform better.”

SHARP New Orleans is run by volunteers.

A new suit and accessories would normally cost from $300 to $400, Young said, and just because someone can’t afford the proper interview attire shouldn’t disqualify them from the opportunity. I just want to do my part. For every man you help secure employment, the more positive contributions of building wealth for families and opportunities to give back even more to the community. If the opportunity is available for women, then men also need the same system of resources and support.

I just want to do what I can to help fulfill a need in our community.

SHARP CONNECTING MEN WITH INTERVIEW APPROPRIATE ATTIRE CALL NOW: 504-603-6787