The Menders repair clothes and restore diginity for Philadelphia's unhoused community

ByTom Kretschmer Localish logo
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Menders repair clothes, restore diginity for Philly's unhoused
They can fix anything: Meet the Menders. A volunteer team at Philly's Broad Street Ministry who repair clothing for the city's unhoused population.

PHILADELPHIA -- For many in Philadelphia's unhoused population, the clothes on their back are some of their most valuable possessions.

So, what happens if they need a hole patched, a bag repaired, or a pant leg taken in?

That's where The Menders come in.

They are a team of volunteers who meet weekly at the Broad Street Ministry in Center City Philadelphia.

There, they transform a corner of the drop-in shelter into a sewing workstation.

They set up shop and receive orders from a line of people who need their clothing repaired.

"We're all volunteers," says Helen Cunningham. We all liked to sew. We found this program where we can use our skills helping other people. It's really a pleasure to put something back together and do it with such nice people."

This is one part of the radical hospitality that Broad Street Ministry provides for the people in need in Philadelphia.

"They provide a white glove service," says Larry Downey, Director of Development. "They can repair anything from broken zippers to bags and the ability to really tailor clothes. They're really incredible humans. They take care of each other as much as we take care of them."

The Menders have used their life-long seamstress and sewing skills to give back.

They can see the good they do in every repaired zipper, patched pant and sewn shirt they provide for the ministry's clients.

Many of them have become friends, too.

The Menders are just one of the many services that Broad Street Ministry provides.

The ministry offers a clothing boutique, chef-prepared meals and a permanent mailing address for those without one.

Downey says, "People living on the street or in a shelter situation are often overlooked. They deserve to be reminded of their humanity and I'm happy with the quality of service that we can provide."

The Broad Street Ministry is located at 315 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia and is always open to more volunteers.

For more information, please visit them at

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