Bringing Hope to the Hopeless | Business with Purpose EP 296: Garrett Underwood, The Seed House Project
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My guest this week is Garrett Underwood, Founder/Executive Director of Seed House Project, a live-work home for at-risk youth. He is also the owner of Malachi Clothing, a well-known Christian Clothing company in Southern California.
Garrett oversees all programs within the Seed House Project. His goal is to reinvent the transition for youth to adulthood using technology and new innovative ideas to create change within the homelessness in LA.
He has now housed more than 100 people, and he has created hope for each person who walks through his home.
3:10 – Garrett 101
- He started with a clothing company and gave hygiene packages to homeless people.
- His heart expanded and he wanted to do more to help homeless people.
4:39 – The fixer
- When Garrett sees a problem, he wants to try to fix it.
- He moved into a trailer for six months with no running water and got to see what other people experienced, like loneliness and embarrassment.
8:55 – Homeless issue
- Garrett visited skid row when he was 20, and he previously visited homeless shelters.
- He has always loved kids, and especially wanted to help them.
12:55 – Common threads
- Garrett started seeing common threads of things that made it difficult for people to improve their lives.
- His definition of homelessness is not the absence of a home or a building. His definition of homelessness is the absence of hope.
19:36 – Finding your purpose
- Garrett tries to convince people they have talent and purpose in this world.
- People need to have powerful experiences that change and expand their worldview.
23:37 – Myths about homelessness
- Not every homeless person is an addict.
28:48 – Seed House
- Seed House is a live-work space for at-risk youth.
- They offer wrap around services, such as credit building and instant employment.
31:15 – Five-step roadmap
- The roadmap is a snapshot of the 90-day course.
- Everyone has a story, and you are an expert about your own life.
35:39 – Get to know you
- Guilty pleasure? Painting and sculpture
- What makes him laugh? His niece.
My definition of homelessness is not the absence of a home, a building. I think the definition of homelessness is the absence of hope.
I’m a fixer. When I see a problem, I want to try to fix it.
Not every homeless person is an addict.
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About Garrett Underwood:
Garrett Underwood is currently the Executive Director of Seed House Project, a Live/Work home or at-risk youth. His position entails overseeing daily operations, meeting financial quota, and most importantly managing all programs within the organization. Some of the programs consist of; Self actualization development, Business or Non – Profit Execution plan, Credit building, Financial literacy and Emotional Intelligence Development.
Mr. Underwood received his Masters at Azusa Pacific for Organizational Behavior &
Development. Previously before attending Azusa he started a Faith- Based Clothing Company called Malachi Clothing. The business model was “ buy one give one” for every purchase a hygiene kit was given away to someone in need, In return the customer would receive a free prayer bracelet with the name of the person that received the care package. The company partners with over 50 shelters & group homes across Los Angeles, and gave over ten thousand care packages a year. Unfortunately the demands of recourse increased and care packages wasn’t enough to fulfill the need, which lead Mr. Underwood to make a major shift in his career.
In 2016 Mr. Underwood decided to dive deeper in the homeless crisis in Los Angeles. He
volunteered at all the major organizations within Los Angeles, The Dream Center, My Friends Place and PATH ( People Assisting The Homeless) to name a few. Two years later Mr. Underwood became the lead Coordinator for the Homeless Outreach for all over the Los
Angeles Country as well as the Program Manager at PATH. He also took on as the lead site counselor at Covenant house, the leading housing program for homeless youth in Los Angeles.
During his experience he began to see a common thread within the many different issues within the homeless crises in Los Angeles. He noticed lack of affordable housing was a big issue but he also took note of the physiology of hope. Those that had something to look forward to, whether a job, school or family 90% of them either obtained or maintained their housing.
This static led Mr. Underwood developed an employment program that created purpose.
Working with the shelters he previously partnered with, he conducted workshops around storytelling and the impact one story can have. The participants would have the opportunity to share their story within the jewelry they created. The jewelry was then distributed to stores across LA, therefore sharing their story to hundreds of people. This created purpose and employment. Within the first year Mr. Underwood was able to employ over 98 individuals. The one other issue he couldn’t solve was affordable housing. He decided to donate his home and move into a trailer to meet the need in whatever way he could. He was able to house 16 people at a time.
Three years later Mr. Underwood has now housed over a 100 people and created hope for each person that walks through his home. He has perfected the art of finding one’s purpose with extensive assessment tools and a curriculum to how you can turn your purpose into a program to serve others.