Local organization helps people dress for success

February 14, 2013 8:12:19 PM PST
There are at least three things you need to find a job in a tough economy: focus, determination, and the right clothes. For more than 17 years an East Bay organization has been helping low-income job seekers find interview clothing at no cost.

ABC7 News learned about the group at an ABC7 Listens community meeting in Concord.

Robert Day of Berkeley is literally starting at the bottom as he tries on the outfit he hopes will land him a job. He's unemployed, and was briefly homeless.

"I want to be an entrepreneur. I would love to own my own company, be my own boss," said Day.

Before he becomes that business owner, he's got to find a suit and tie that will send a message of hard work, reliability and smarts to a potential employer. That's where Oakland-based Wardrobe For Opportunity comes in. Unemployed and underprivileged men and women can come here and be matched up with the right clothing for a job search, and that's not all.

"They'll sort of coach you on how to tie your tie, how to wear the right clothing, if you're going to certain events, they'll explain you want to wear these colors. So they kind of update you, they don't just dress you here," said Rich Harper, a former client.

"We work in partnership with the community to help people to find a job, keep a job and build a career," said Dorice Jones, the executive director of Wardrobe For Opportunity.

Candidates are recommended by other organizations that help the poor. Eighty percent of the clients are single parents. More than 70 percent get some sort of government assistance. Wardrobe For Opportunity helped nearly 2,000 people last year. The clothes are donated. Women's outfits come from the closets of local women. Many of the men's suits are donated by Men's Wearhouse.

"I definitely feel more confident, comfortable. I don't know, there's just something about it," said Day.

And it's working. More than half of the clients will get job interviews within a month and a half. Just under 50 percent will get hired. But they need your help to reach more people. Check out their website to find out how to donate Clothing & Accessory Donations, Financial Contributions, or for Volunteer Opportunities.

By the way our next ABC7 Listens meeting is scheduled for April in San Francisco's Mission District.


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