The T-Shirt Stories

The Haven’s T shirt collection is a representation of the Haven itself: a place where different lives that would not ordinarily touch have come together. When you enter the Clothing Room at the Haven and start to browse through the racks of T shirts, you begin to see the amazing representation and expressions of people’s lifestyles and ponder the special life scenarios of memorable events and personal passions. Your mind begins to reel with endless possibilities of how people live their lives, what motivates them, what inspires them, what gives them pleasure, and what has meaning for them.

You see the obvious pursuits such as sports, academics and participation in charitable events. You also see the not so obvious like religious affiliations and botanical identifications. There are shirts with local, regional, national and international affiliations. There is the Prouty, the Red Sox, Church of Latter Day Saints, Wimbledon and so many more.

As we peruse the racks, my son is delighted to find a Dartmouth T shirt that expresses his love for a local college with a national reputation. He wonders who originally owned this shirt, what position he played, and how good a player was he. I wonder things like what happened after college and was his experience at Dartmouth a good one.

He also finds a local racing T shirt with a law abiding driving suggestion, “Drive sober or get pulled over.” This becomes one of his favorite shirts and is a great conversation starter. He wonders if the original owner was a driver or a spectator. I wonder if the original owner was a true practitioner of the shirt’s message.

My oldest daughter quickly snatches “Les Miserables” and “I Love New York” T shirts. She has heard the music many times and seen the film. She wonders if the original shirt wearer actually saw the Broadway production. Did the original wearer own both shirts and purchase them on a special trip to the Big Apple? She expresses her envy about being able to have such a wonderful experience and begins to dream of the day she can make such a trek herself. For me, I remember an exciting trip to the theater to see this production with terrific friends, endless playing of the score as I drove to work and the many smiles it brought to my face. I wonder if the original owner of this shirt enjoyed the production as much as I did. I also wonder if this was a one-time experience or if this person is a passionate patron of the arts.

My youngest daughter proudly shows me a patriotic T shirt she has found for herself. It boasts the American flag. When she puts it on her face glows. She calls to others in the Clothing Room to see the wonderful treasure she has discovered. She wonders if the original owner wore this for a Fourth of July celebration and begins to march around conducting her own personal parade. I smile at the happiness this shirt is giving to her and those watching her.

All of those who donated these shirts had at least one thing in common. They believed the Haven to be the right place to do the most good with these items. I wonder if these donors realize actually just how much more they did by donating these things. Not only did they provide an important necessity with this clothing, they have in many instances provided the stuff of dreams. They have brought smiles and joy to many and given a special part of themselves. What a wonderful example of sharing!

Written by J. Bourque Dolan

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