I don't remember when I first heard about Dress for Success, but I had been interested in the organization for quite some time before I first began volunteering in 2013. What drew me to Dress for Success initially is the fact that it combined two of my favorite passions, fashion and business. I knew that it was a charity organization that helped impoverished women rejoin the workforce and regain confidence through clothing help, but I had no idea how powerful of an organization it really is.
Dress for Success does provide clothing assistance for women, but it does so much more. The organization receives referrals from other women's relief centers, such as domestic violence shelters, immigration services and job placement agencies. When women are referred to Dress for Success they are first given an orientation, where they learn about all of the different opportunities they can take advantage of through Dress for Success. Some of these include resume help, interview practice and job search workshops. There are also networking groups inside of Dress for Success to help women with employee retention. There are weekly and monthly events that women can attend where they can have important conversations with other women in similar situations, receive expert advice from top speakers related to employee retention, and learn about more general topics, such as women's health.
Women also get multiple opportunities to shop for new clothing during the interview process and after they have secured new employment. I volunteer as a Personal Shopper, which means that I get one client to focus all of my attention on for an hour. For these women, getting the new clothes is only part of the process. This may be one of the first times in years that they have gotten time for themselves, and personal attention. They feel pampered and taken care of during the process. The organization also offers hair and makeup services which makes the experience even better. Not having proper clothing to interview in, or the financial ability to go and choose clothing, is an experience that must of us will be lucky enough to never face. These women are truly being given an opportunity to re-enter the workforce with confidence and grace.
I love my volunteer position because I love seeing the happiness on my clients face as they stand in front of the mirror and see a new and improved version of themselves. They have had to face situations that I couldn't imagine, but the simple act of putting on a new set of clothes truly does help them envision a brighter future for themselves.
I urge all women to donate their gently used clothing to Dress for Success, where it can truly help change lives. If you are interested you can also make a financial donation, or join me in volunteering! There are a wide variety of positions to volunteer for and ways to help and the organization is very deserving of all of the support it can get.