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Women Helping Women

Women Helping Women It can be a full time job trying to find a job. And if you’ve been without for a while, how do you afford the clothes you need to wear to show up dressed-to-impress for an interview? If you’re able to borrow clothes or scrape up enough to put a good outfit together, and you’re lucky enough to land the job, how can you be well-attired at the workplace for the weeks before you receive your first paycheck? Many women don’t have a good answer for these questions. Yet for various reasons – to get out from under domestic abuse, transitioning from stay-at-home mom, post divorce economic need – they need to get into (or back into) the workplace.

We can help!

You may have heard about the Dress For Success organization – its focus is to help women get back into the workplace by providing interview and work clothes that they could not otherwise afford, among other things. But they are not the only entity with a mission to empower women to be self-supporting or contributers to household income. There is probably such an organization in your town, city, or neighboring urban area that welcomes assistance – so they can provide assistance – to women in need. In addition to formal programs that exist for the cause, other non-profit groups such as YWCA, women’s shelters, and churches often extend such services to women.

We know that quality professional wear – suits, skirts, blouses – are always a major help. Do you have any in good shape that are stashed in the back of your closet gathering dust? Or maybe those end-of-season sales would be a great time to take an amount you would be willing to donate and get more bang for the buck by purchasing business attire for a fraction of it’s regular price. That takes care of some big stuff. Let’s turn our attention to other necessities and helpful items that women need to get many types of employment – items that aren’t donated as often as clothing.



Properly fitting undergarments



Thank you cards and stamps



Leather Folder with paper and pen

Costume jewelry

Hair accessories

Fast food gift books for work lunches


A new haircut

Professional manicure

Updated eyeglasses

Polished coat

Β For those who would like to help in person or have more time than money, there are many opportunities to volunteer. Helping someone put together a resume, babysitting until they start getting paid, or being an unofficial “big sister” who checks in with them and roots them on are invaluable services which aren’t often provided by organizations. Such services not only help an individual have a better life, the snowball effect it has on their family, community and to all those they “pay it forward to” when they are able are exponential!



  1. All excellent ideas and services! I used to run a drop-in centre for disadvantaged women and ran training programmes for them based on workplace etiquette and positive thinking. For the young women a big part of that work was education in what it meant to be a worker – for many never had been employed and came from families who never had jobs either and the expectations of what they were entitled to were high while the skills, on all levels, were low. I think pre-employment training is necessary for many to ensure that once they get a job, they KEEP it.

    1. Sounds like you were offering some substantial skills, Pauline. I never thought about someone navigating the business culture if they’ve not been in it before – “workplace etiquette” training is something we could use more of! I hear you on the high expectation/low skill level dilemma – a challenging attitude to overcome. The kind of training you referenced has the power to break a generational chain.

  2. Dress for Success is a wonderful organization. We have a local group here that works with a beauty parlor that does hair styling and manicures to go with the outfits and practice interviews and resumes, and the combined results are inspiring, hopeful, encouraging, and uplifting for everyone involved.

    1. It really is a great organization, Marylin. I remember when it was more fledgling. They have really expanded – both geographically and with the services offered. I think I’ll go add “manicures” to the “splurge” list!

    1. You got me curious about that, Jill – so I checked. The only thing I found similar for men was a program in Indiana called “Danny’s Closet.” http://www.stvincent.org/dannyscloset/ It sounds like a wonderful program. I was surprised to find out that Dress for Success has only been around for 18 years – maybe programs like Danny’s Closet will take off, too. -El

    1. Dress for Success started in 1997 and has since spread to 139 cities in 18 countries. Marylin mentioned the chapter close to her has an affiliation with a beauty salon so they can assist with hair and manicures. A wonderful service!

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