Dress for Success is on pace to help more than 300 women this year in the Tri-State
area of West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. The group’s goal is to promote
economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire,
a network of support and career development tools.
What this all means is the
organization helps provide women with clothing appropriate for the interview
environment after first training them to deal with an interview. Sonya Hall is
the Executive Director of the 5-year-old Huntington
“Unemployment is so prevalent in our
area and an organization such as ours is just invaluable, we help these
disadvantaged women in preparing for a job not only through the clothing, but
interview skills, writing resumes, of course dressing for their interviews as
well as assisting them if they’re underemployed,” Hall said.
Also part of the group’s effort is a
Going Places Network, which is a series of meetings that help women that are
without a job gain skills that will help them gain one. Each month the group
has speakers come in who network with the women looking for jobs. The key is
providing them with the resources and environment that will lead to gainful
“Women stand in our boutique every day
and burst into tears of joy and excitement about the possibilities of who they
can become and the small staff here, there is only 4 of us, we’re all their
cheerleaders and that little bit of encouragement goes a long way with our
clients,” Hall said.
The organization doesn’t receive state
or federal funding. It depends on overstock sales twice a
year. Hall said in the five years it’s been around in the river cities, Dress
for Success has found a spot in the community because of the large need of such
“It is hard to believe what these women
did before we got here, there a lot of wonderful nonprofits in our community
and we work hand-in-hand with them, a lot of them are our referral partners,
but none are as inclusive as Dress for Success River Cities and to watch these
women that were so low when they first came in to do a total turnaround is one
of the best things I’ve ever experienced,” Hall said.
Dress for Success River Cities sees
clients through referral only programs ranging from different agencies in the
region to job training programs. The organization has served women nationally
since 1996 but this is the only Dress for Success group in the state. Hall
said that first suit helps women that have little to no confidence, find the
strength to go out and find work.
“It’s a huge confidence builder, a lot
of these women have never owned a suit, we always encourage them to wear a suit
to their interview and there and there at first feeling very uncomfortable and
not sure and that’s where our suiting director Bonnie Davis comes, it’s a huge
confidence builder for them to see themselves in a suit for the first time,”
for Success client receives one suit when she has a job interview and additional
apparel, up to a week's worth of clothing when she becomes employed.