Dress for Success Worcester suits job-seekers.
WORCESTER - Dress for Success Worcester gave Miranda L. Craig that extra something that landed her a job: confidence, interview skills and clothes that made a positive and lasting impression on her prospective employers.
"I was extremely and pleasantly surprised when I went to Dress for Success. I think the blue sweater that Kaly (program director Kaly Sullivan) picked out for me was what got me my job. Everything was beautiful. A lot of places you have to wait in line, but Kaly came right up to me, helped me, making me comfortable and there was no judgment," said Ms. Craig, who has been working in administrative support at an office for two years. She was referred to Dress for Success by her representative at Workforce Central on Front Street, where she stayed all day searching the listings for a job until, as she put it, "they made me go home!"
Dress for Success Board President Kathy Barron saw women like Ms. Craig come through the doors of her business, Accurate Resource Group, Inc.
"Being a business owner in the staffing world for over 20 years in Worcester, I saw many women who were single moms at a low income level who wanted desperately to get to work and support their families. These women would often start work and stop shortly thereafter, not being able to continue to juggle the single mom and work challenges without a really strong network of support," said Ms. Barron.
After hearing about the goals of the program, Ms. Barron knew that the Worcester community needed the services that Dress for Success offered.
"This was the missing piece to successful employment and continued career success. I also knew that I wanted to help make it happen. The Professional Women's Group helps newly employed women retain and progress in their jobs. The key to the success of Dress for Success is the holistic approach that it takes to help women in their work and personal life to move toward self-sufficiency," said Ms. Barron.
In 2008, Ms. Barron and a group of women founded Dress for Success Worcester, and its boutique in the Denholm Building on Main Street opened in 2009.
The program has suited more than 1,000 women, and in 2011 the Professional Women's Group was created.
The nonprofit Dress for Success Worcester is one of three state-based sister organizations of the international program, which helps disadvantaged women on their way to economic independence by providing professional attire, a network of support, interview skills, resume writing and, once employed, career-building skills.
Women enter Dress for Success by referral only, through job training programs, government agencies including homeless shelters, educational institutions, immigration services and domestic violence shelters. A woman must have an interview scheduled before receiving clothing.
Ms. Sullivan was inspired as a volunteer personal shopper at Dress for Success Boston.
"I was so inspired by the whole process, how empowered each woman felt when she found that right suit, how clients were offered ongoing support through workshops and mentoring. It's amazing how one woman can have a huge impact on her family and her community as she strives toward self-sufficiency," said Ms. Sullivan, who oversees Dress' three programs and collaborates with volunteers, agencies, organizations and businesses to connect women to the professional and personal resources they need to be successful.
The organization's third annual gala celebration, "Going Places, Going Strong," will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Beechwood Hotel on Plantation Street. Jeff Taylor, founder of Monster.com, will be the featured speaker.
Attendees can anticipate an evening of music, international cuisine and a silent auction of items and gift certificates offered by restaurants and businesses.
Mr. Taylor, who reinvented the way the world looks for employment, said, "Any gift looks a little better with a decorative touch - some fancy paper, maybe even some ribbon. It doesn't change the gift inside, it just creates a little more anticipation. How you present yourself sets the expectation for a great conversation. You would never credit the way you look, but you are a package just the same, a bundle of energy and ideas just waiting to get out. I will spend some time exploring how to use your ideas and your skills to break out of the box and wow your team, family and yourself."
For tickets or more information, call (508) 796-5660 or visit www.dressforsuccess.org.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/TOM RETTIG
CUTLINE: From left, Juola Stefani of Webster and Kaly Sullivan of Dress for Success Worcester helped Isamar Remigio, 20, of Worcester dress for her job.