I have known about Working Wardrobes for a while now. I have donated clothes to them through their boutique stores “The Hanger” and have always known they are a quality organization. However, I had no idea just how much they do and provide for their ‘clients’.
This weekend I was able to fully experience what they do when Katie and I were invited to be VIP guests at their annual Women’s Career Success Institute Graduation. I was completely impressed with the lengths they go to for the people that they help.
We showed up to Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley around noon. We were greeted at the door and given name tags with a ‘VIP’ ribbon attached to it. We were then introduced to our tour guide. She took us first into the gymnasium, which was completely transformed into a women’s department store. There were racks of suits, dresses and shoes along with tables full of jewelry, handbags and accessories. Each woman, about 80 of them, were issued two personal shoppers to help them pick out what they needed and were able to take home two complete outfits from the day.
My natural first question was “Who are these women that get to be here today to receive this?” The answer? Mostly women that come from halfway houses, rehabilitation and increasingly women who have served in the military but are suffering from PTSD. All 80 of these women also had to complete a 6 week Career Success training course which taught them self confidence, interview skills as well as applicable job skills for being able to re-enter the workforce.
Today was their graduation and these outfits were their reward!
But it was more than just clothes…
After we went through the gym, we were taken to a different building in which a full salon was set up in the classrooms. Volunteers from various hair schools were there cutting and styling each of the women’s hair. In the next room over were makeup artists putting the final touches on their look. In the room beyond that? Massages. And that was when it hit me. These women are receiving a complete ‘day at the spa’ makeover experience.
One of the last steps for these women were to get their pictures taken. When they showed up in the morning they took ‘before’ pictures. And now, with the help of professional photographers, they were taking ‘after’ pictures. Each of them received a professional headshot when the day was complete.
Working Wardrobes even set up local businesses to come and hold interviews with them to help them get jobs as well.
And to top the day off? A fashion show. Complete with a DJ and audience of several hundred people to cheer them on. During the final ‘graduation’ several were asked to share what today meant to them. Confident and grateful were common themes through each of the women who shared – and it showed.
I am sharing this with you because most people have heard of Working Wardrobes, but very few truly know the lengths they go to help the people (men and women) they serve. The results are hard to deny – women who have had a hard time in life are getting a second chance and are getting a leg up because of the work Working Wardrobes is doing.
I love it when a non-profit does it ‘right’ and I hope you feel the same way. Also, during the month of July, for every suit you donate Men’s Wearhouse will donate a shirt and tie to go with it. So collect your old suits and drop them off in July!
I encourage you to like them on Facebook and when you have a chance, stop by their 16,000 sq. ft. facility in Costa Mesa.