Lifestyle — Free Suits Given To Men In Baltimore By Father-Son Duo
by Manuel Lavalle

He had been still for five minutes, staring hard into the mirror. His eyes carefully studied the man he saw in his reflection. His eyelids were growing puffy. I could see tears forming in the corners of his eyes.

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I asked,

What are you seeing, man?

He replied,

I'm seeing my inner self.

This would be Jackson's first-ever suit. He was among 30-40 other men who were receiving suits at Sharp Dressed Man, the non-profit storefront in Baltimore, Maryland.

We were both standing there in silence when Curtis Russell walked by. He slapped Jackson on the back.

He jeered,

All right. All right… you can roll with me.

He gave Jackson a fist bump and a smile of encouragement.

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This was Curtis' first week volunteering at Sharp Dressed Man.

The previous week, he was among the recipients of donated suits.

Now, he was walking around helping men with selecting and fitting their outfits.

Curtis spent three years in prison in Baltimore and was released in January.

He told me,

I'm honored to be able to help at Sharp Dressed Man. The only prerequisite they told me was that when you're in a position to help somebody, you do the same thing.

Christopher Schafer is the founder and president of Sharp Dressed Man. He launched the nonprofit as well as his custom tailoring business Christopher Schafer Clothier six and a half years ago.

He run's both companies with the help of his eldest son Seth Schafer.

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So far, the father-son duo have given away 1,600 suits to men in Baltimore, but in the past three months, things have gotten complicated.

Christopher's original storefront caught fire in the beginning of last year.

Upon moving into their new 20,000 square-foot location, they were unable to switch the gas and electric bill out of the old tenant's name.

After a year of running the nonprofit, they finally received the gas and electric bill for the entire year. Sharp Dressed Man now owes $20,000 to the gas company. Christopher has launched a GoFundMe Campaign to raise the funds.

If he can't come up with money, he'll be forced to the close the nonprofit's doors for good.

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I spent the entirety of Wednesday watching these men come to terms with their previous lives and taking the right steps toward a fresh start.

These suits are more than just an article of clothing. They're an opportunity for these willing and capable men in Baltimore to reenter society.

I hope Sharp Dressed Man isn't forced to close its doors, but is instead able to expand to a national level.