- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
Between moving into a new apartment and doing my usual spring cleaning, I now have several large bags of clothes and shoes to donate. Instead of just tossing them into the nearest collection bin of one of the many nonprofits accepting clothing, I wanted to do some research to find out how these organizations were doing good by using my clothes.
There is no shortage of nonprofit organizations that need donated clothing - from women's shelters, to adult rehabilitation centers, to organizations that prepare women for the workforce. Taking the current economic situation into account, I can't think of a better use for my clothes than to help someone else get a job. Now, one might wonder how my Ann Taylor suit from 3 seasons ago would help someone secure employment. Well, anyone who's ever put on a crisp new shirt or pair of dress pants understands the confidence the right outfit can inspire...hence, the concept of the power suit.
The way a woman perceives her image is often reflected in her demeanor. Looking professional and put-together makes her feel the same way. I fully recognize the power clothes have to lift spirits and build confidence, and I love the idea of sharing this feeling with other women. I'm not the only one who recognizes the impact the right outfit can have on one's attitude, as this is the guiding principle behind the following nonprofit organizations that exist to leverage the power of clothes to help women secure jobs.
Dress for SuccessThis nonprofit has affiliates throughout the United States and around the world. Dress for Success provides a woman with one interview suit, and if she finds a job, she can return for a few additional pieces to begin her professional wardrobe. Although the clothes provide the initial support to land a job, Dress for Success offers much more to their clients. The Career Center allows women to perfect their resumes, gain technology skills and learn how to ace an interview. The Professional Women's Group program (PWG) assists with career development by providing a network of support and continuous learning for employed clients. Mentoring opportunities are available at many affiliate sites, and there's even a program for young female professionals to support Dress for Success while also providing fun networking opportunities. See if there's a Young Executives for Success (Y.E.S!) in your area. And finally, the best part is that you can shop to support Dress for Success! By purchasing items like a specially designed scarf by Tommy Hilfiger or by using certain services such as staying at a Kimpton Hotel, you can give back in style!
Suited for ChangeLike Dress for Success, Suited for Change understands the impact that a professional appearance can make during the interview process. Suited for Change serves the greater Washington, DC area and partners with over 100 agencies that provide job training and counseling to women. Once a woman is ready for the interview process, she receives a private wardrobe consultation and two suits. Once she's found employment, she can return for three more outfits, resulting in a full week's wardrobe. But Suited for Change doesn't stop there; through the Stepping Up program, they hold workshops on everything - from interview techniques, to personal finance, to rights and responsibilities in the workplace. These opportunities not only enable women to build professional and personal skills, they also allow for networking with other clients and with female professionals. Suited for Change offers many ways to get involved. You can:
- donate clothing or sponsor a suit (donating $49 for the purchase of a plus-sized suit)
- volunteer in a number of different ways (there's even a way to help out during your lunch hour), or
- attend one of several events Suited for Change has throughout the year.
For example, last week I attended the Suite PurSuit After Party, where a $25 ticket got me a cocktail, a Saks swag bag, and the chance to mingle with fellow supporters and all proceeds benefited Suited for Change.
Goodwill IndustriesGoodwill is another organization that utilizes clothing to support employment and job training. While Goodwill doesn't give clothing to job seekers, they use the revenue from their retail stores to fund job training and education programs and career services to people with disadvantages and disabilities throughout North America. Moreover, Goodwill does offer clothing at a low cost, helping people on tight budgets to stretch their paychecks. Besides donating and shopping at Goodwill stores (where I have picked up some amazing vintage jewelry), you can also visit their online auction at shopgoodwill.com. There's truly something for everyone: art, antiques, collectibles and electronics. Fashionistas can even score some fabulous clothing and accessories for under $20, all while supporting Goodwill's programs.
This is just a short list of organizations that use clothing to assist people in finding employment. Most cities have similar organizations, so look around for local opportunities. Now round up those unused items in your closet to donate, make a monetary donation online or by attending an event, volunteer your time, or make a purchase to benefit one of these organizations.
Let me know how you plan to help a woman get started on her career path!