LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The coronavirus pandemic has decimated start-ups and long-lasting businesses alike, but it's also dashed the hopes of many people who has been trying to support their communities in times of great need.
One Las Vegas native, however, has refused to give up on his dream of helping troubled youth despite the pandemic.
Brandarius Johnson, owner of the Wrapped in Hope mental health campaign, said he spent roughly $10,000 on everything necessary to run a screen printing workshop, pallets, heaters, screens, pressure washers, and more, and was trying to establish a program for troubled youth to use their creativity in positive ways.
"With my background in youth corrections, seeing how different kids express themselves with some of their creative ideas, I thought, how cool would it be to help them design T-shirts or stickers or whatever," he said.
Johnson says many of the young people he'd worked with in the past were very expressive but often turned to graffiti and other illegal ways of showing their artistic talents.
His vision was to use the screen printing equipment to teach young people a new skill, market and brand themselves, and sell then they could sell what they've created to fund their continued education.
However, Johnson bought the equipment at the worst possible time: Just before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses, and now the machinery sits in his parents' garage.
Johnson also lost his job early in the pandemic exhausting his startup capital.
"Just financially tapped out," he said. "I've put everything into it."
Johnson said he's got all the equipment, and he's got the nonprofit established to run everything but space remains the one hurdle to connecting with people in need.
He's calling on anyone who's passionate about helping to reach out if they have available space where he could establish the screen-printing program.
"If there's anything I can do with my reach to get the support for this, I'm all in," Johnson said. "And at the end of the day it's about the community."