CHICAGO -- A Chicago printing company is helping veterans get back on their feet as they try to meet the high demand for Cubs World Series gear.
The weekend was a busy one for the staff at Rags of Honor, a company that employs veterans struggling with homelessness. The workers there got to catch the end of Saturday night’s big cubs NLCS win, but their celebration was a little different.
“We had it on the radio and we were streaming it,” said Rags of Honor Founder Mark Doyle. “The minute that last pitch goes, [we] fire up the presses and get to work.”
Saturday night, as fans celebrated in homes and streets across Chicagoland, military veterans were cranking out Cubs World Series gear.
A navy veteran and Cubs fan since he was six years old, Director of Operations Dion West says working the longer hours is totally worth it.
“Seeing them progress into a team that can actually win something, and we got that chance to do something, you know past the regular season it’s very good,” West said. “I have no problem standing up 24 hours to get shirts out for them.”
Rags of Honor started in 2013, in a 2000-square-foot shared facility. Just one year ago it moved to a 10,000-square-foot space on Chicago’s Northwest Side. The move was costly and the company struggled.
“When you’re using your savings, and the savings start to get down, and you think you’re going to run out of money ... it’s stressful,” Doyle said.
But thanks to an assist from the aerospace company AAR Corp., Doyle said the company is still in business, and got back on its feet after fielding big orders from the NFL.
More than two dozen veterans now work there full time, and there’s plenty of work to do – the Cubs World Series T-shirts has been the biggest order in the company’s history. Around 10,000 have been printed so far with another 8,000 to come if the team wins.
“Ever since I’ve been working here with my brothers in arms and doing what we do, I mean, I smile more,” said veteran Luis Arroyo. He said his life has changed during the year and a half he’s been working for the company.
“I have my own place, a vehicle; I feel empowered again,” Arroyo said.
Win or lose, that’s something to celebrate.