Clothes help make the woman

March 26, 2008 9:30:44 AM PDT
Helping out women in our community, one suit at a time. ABC and "Oprah's Big Give" presented a $10,000 check to the local "Dress for Success" program.It's not just about clothing. The program has already helped to change the lives of thousands of women. The program relies on clothing and cash donations. Dress for Success started in New York and has since gone worldwide. The idea is to help disadvantaged women land professional jobs. The first step is getting an interview. Then Dress for Success makes sure the women look their best.

When Dorothy Prejean needed help to land a job, she found it at Dress for Success. Dorothy is one of thousands of Houston area women who has received a donated business suit.

She recalled, "They suited me up perfectly -- everything from shoes a suit, pearls a handbag. It was the handbag that carried my resume."

Dorothy landed the job with an insurance agency.

"It's a whole lot to do with self-esteem," explained Nancy Levicki with Dress for Success. "A woman feels good when she puts on a beautiful suit. She squares her shoulders, she looks in the mirror and she sees a future filled with promise. She sees hope."

Dress for Success aims to help low income women eager to break the cycle of poverty and move from welfare to work. Clients are matched with personal shoppers to choose from gently used business suits donated by women already in the work force. Organizers say women are often limited to jobs they can interview for -- not by their skills, but by the clothing they own.

"It gave me a big confidence boost," recalled former client Lesaundra Carmon. "It made me feel good. The support I got from the ladies and my personal shopper while I was here. The encouragement on top of the suit gave me the confidence boost I need to go out and interview land the job I have."

It all starts with donated suits, but it's the women wearing them that make the program a success.

Levicki said, "Their courage is amazing and they are inspiration for all of us."

When clients land a job, they can return for lectures on leadership, financial literacy and career development. They even get another suit. The program's donation drive kicks off next week. If you would like to donate, you may drop-off your clean, gently worn suit on a hanger at:

  • MW Cleaners
  • dressbarn
  • Dress for Success Houston (3915 Dacoma, Houston, TX 77092) in the Brookhollow Business Center
For specific locations and additional details, check the Dress for Success website.

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