A Lasting Imprint: How a T-Shirt Biz is Changing Lives

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Church, Catholic Community, Crux, Faith, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

By Tim Harfmann

C.J. McCoy is one of many men  pressing and printing his way to success. He works at “Reconnect Brooklyn,” which helps men ages 17 to 24 keep busy and out of trouble.

“This is a start for anybody who hasn’t been on the right track or who just hasn’t had the right guidance,” C.J. said. 

A priest, Father Jim O’Shea, founded the nonprofit nearly a decade ago.

“It started, essentially, to try to figure out a way to work with good, young people who were getting involved with negative activities,” he explained. 

The Passionist priest made it his mission to instill values through Reconnect Brooklyn.

Located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, young men work at the business 20 hours a week for three months and receive regular evaluations.

The hope behind this business model is that the art crafts their futures. 

“This gave me a place to start, to get a feel for everything, so I get out there more and do what I have to do,” C.J. explained. 

Father Jim says more than 200 men have gone through the program in the last decade. 

There’s a 90 percent graduation rate, and over 80 percent of alums are still employed.

Edwing LaChapelle is one of them.

“It helped me learn responsibility. It also helped me finish school because this mentorship is phenomenal,” he said.

The 24-year-old earned his high school degree and landed jobs in both security and fitness.

“I could’ve just gotten into trouble and done certain things,” he explained. “It just molded me into the young man I became.”

Now, Reconnect Brooklyn is now looking for a bigger space where it can impact more lives.