Having experienced homelessness himself, Alex Nguyen knows firsthand how challenging it can be to not have even the basic essentials.
Growing up as a first-generation Vietnamese child, raised by a single mother who had him at a young age, Alex faced many challenges that most of us can’t even imagine. But instead of letting his difficult past define him, he decided to take action. This is what inspired him to start Project Peace Clothing.
Alex admits that he has dealt with some trauma and mental health issues growing up, and for this he decided to undergo a three-and-a-half-year therapy. Now, Alex is a mental health nurse, slowly working towards his psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner degree. He’s passionate about helping people who struggle with mental health issues, especially those in the addiction population and the homeless community.
Through his clothing line, Alex is not only advocating for mental wellness and women’s empowerment, but he’s also helping the homeless community. For every purchase from Project Peace Clothing, Alex gives another homeless person not just the basic survival needs like food and water, but also a piece of clothing to help keep them warm on cold nights.
Alex’s past has made him more compassionate and empathetic towards homeless people, and he’s using his experiences to make a positive impact on the world. He believes that intentional acts of kindness, even if unnoticed, can cause a ripple effect that touches the lives of many.
Join us as we take a closer look at the inspiring story of Alex Nguyen and his mission to spread peace, love, and kindness through Project Peace Clothing.
MOVING FROM PLACES TO PLACES
Alex’s mother was only 17 years old when she became pregnant with him by his father, who fled the country when Alex was just one year old. Growing up was challenging for both Alex and his mother, as they never had a stable place to live. They frequently moved from place to place because the rent was difficult to pay, and there were times they slept in their car or rented a motel day by day. While his mother was at work, Alex was often left with other relatives, and she eventually dropped out of college to support him.
During his college years, Alex continued to face challenges. He lived in a garage at a friend’s house for several years and worked two jobs while studying. He even had to carpool with two friends because he didn’t have a car, and he didn’t have any support besides himself. Despite all of this, he persevered and graduated in 2017, hoping that his life would finally turn for the better.
A SENSE OF FULFILLMENT AND HAPPINESS
Growing up in an unstable household without a parental figure to guide him, Alex learned everything on his own and developed a survival mentality. He made friends and reached out to distant relatives for support, and started working at a young age to make ends meet. For a long time, he believed that money was the solution to all his problems.
After graduating and becoming a nurse in 2018, Alex began working over 60 hours a week. It was also around this time that he realized he was suffering from mental illness. He had been independent for so long that he didn’t realize the toll it had taken on his mental health.
By 2021, Alex was working three jobs and neglecting his physical and mental health. One day, while at work, he permanently damaged his lower back when he tried to catch a falling patient.
He was forced to leave two of his three jobs and had time to reflect on his life. It was during this period that he realized that caring for others, particularly those suffering from mental illness, gave him a sense of fulfillment and happiness. He realized that money did not bring him happiness.
Alex started transitioning to become a mental health nurse and is now pursuing a degree as a Psychiatric Mental Health NP. He finds peace and happiness in helping those in need and believes that this is his true calling in life.
PROJECT PEACE CLOTHING
Alex’s own experiences with homelessness growing up inspired him to start Project Peace Clothing. He remembers the freezing nights sleeping in his car and can empathize with those who are currently experiencing homelessness. He believes that his ability to put himself in other people’s shoes and feel their suffering comes from having experienced similar hardships himself. Alex cares deeply for those without housing and acknowledges that many people struggle to empathize with the homeless due to stereotypes and misconceptions.
While working as a nurse, Alex would create care packages for those without housing, which he would distribute during the day or at night. He would buy supplies from Costco and Walmart, put them together in bags, and leave a few in his car to hand out when he saw someone in need. However, he wanted to do more than just provide care packages. He wanted to provide clothes and warmth to those who need them, particularly at night when the temperatures drop.
This desire to make a bigger impact led Alex to start Project Peace Clothing. Through this initiative, he hopes to provide warmth and comfort to the homeless community by distributing blankets, jackets, hats, and other clothing items. Alex’s firsthand experience with homelessness has taught him the importance of basic necessities such as warm clothing, and he is passionate about helping those in need.
The Empower Women collection was inspired by Alex’s girlfriend of 10 years. “I wouldn’t be here today without her,” he said. This collection aims to promote positive messages that make women feel good and valued.”
THAT WAS PEACE
Project Peace Clothing has had a significant impact on the community so far, despite its small scale. As a nurse and student, Alex dedicates his time to helping people both at work and outside of work.
Alex also shares a heartwarming story about a recent encounter he had while ordering one of his favorite desserts called che, a Vietnamese dessert:
“I saw a young homeless Asian pacing back and forth in front of the shop. He reminded me of myself, and something deep inside me wanted to talk to him. I asked him, “Hey, are you hungry? Do you want anything?” He responded that he wished to have the Che 3 Mau, but here at the Hien Khanh, there are a few options, so I got all of the possibilities with some extra savory food for him to share with others.
As I gave him the food, I remember he told me, “How’s your day?” I responded, “It’s good, thank you.” I walked back to my girlfriend, and when I was about to reverse, I saw him in my mirror, looking up into the sky after sipping the dessert drink. To me, that was peace.”
ADVICE ON MAKING A POSITIVE IMPACT IN THE COMMUNITY
When asked for advice on how to make a positive impact on one’s community, Alex recommends following one’s passion and seeking to understand the specific community or population one wishes to help. This may involve volunteering and actively engaging with members of the community. Alex stresses the importance of being open-minded and actively listening, with the intention to both attend and talk. He believes that this approach can be life-changing and can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
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