Here’s a chance for you to wear your heart on your sleeve, thanks to IN volunteer Genevieve Lyons (pictured above). Genevieve teamed up with local screen printer Blue Ridge Graphics to create a T-shirt to support nonprofits and promote community solidarity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. They chose two organizations—International Neighbors and Blue Ridge Area Food Bank—that buyers can designate as the beneficiary when purchasing the shirts online. The logo of one or other goes on the sleeve.

Big thanks to Genevieve, who’s ALL IN with this effort. We spoke to her about her inspiration for the design and her commitment to helping others.

What inspired you to create the T-shirt?

I was inspired to create the shirt because I was feeling the isolation. I’m an extrovert and staying at home is a hard challenge for me. I remembered after the white supremacist attacks in 2017, T-shirts and signs with a teal heart design appeared around town. No one had to ask what it was about—we just knew. I loved that simple message, and I wanted to spread a similar sense of camaraderie and love during these times. 

How did you come up with the design? 

It took me a while to think of the right words. I considered ‘we will take care of each other’ and variations on that. I noticed that many organizations were using the phrase “we’re in this together” and I thought it was perfect. No need to reinvent the wheel. I imagined a heart substituting in for one of the letters. I also wanted to sort of echo the “Virginia is for Lovers” vibe and also the I Love Charlottesville mural in Belmont. I called up Will at Blue Ridge Graphics, and he told me he’d been kicking around a similar idea to support the community and asked if I wanted to collaborate. I said of course! He showed me two rounds of designs and we settled on one.

What do you hope will come out of this effort?

I have three goals: raise some money for the organizations, raise awareness about the good work they do, and build a sense of community in our town. Especially during a pandemic, we have to take care of each other by avoiding spreading the virus and also by taking care of people who experience challenges. Blue Ridge Graphics is a local business. 

Why did you choose to support IN and BRAFB with the t-shirt sales? 

I find the mission of IN to be deeply important and I fear that the refugee community is sometimes overlooked. I also chose the food bank because of the practicality—it’s an action-oriented mission that helps people with an immediate need. I chose two nonprofits because I wanted to give supporters a choice, but I limited it so that the impact would be greater.

Will Kulick with his wife, Julie, and the newest addition to the family business.

How was it to work with Will Kulick and Blue Ridge Graphics? 

Will was great to work with, especially considering he has a new baby at home! I told him what I wanted to do and he said he’d been essentially thinking about the same thing—how to raise money for nonprofits. I am grateful to him because he has the infrastructure to solve the practical issues I’d been struggling with: selling shirts online, shipping to customers, tracking the nonprofit contributions.

The “Cville in this Together” T-shirts are available online until Friday, May 29th: https://stores.brgtshirts.com/cville_together/shop/home

Each T-shirt costs $20, and of that, $10 is donated to the nonprofit of the buyer’s choosing. The corresponding logo will go on the sleeve. T-shirts will be shipped to buyers.

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