With recent funding from the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation in the amount of $1.5 million, Dress for Success Jamaica officially opened a new boutique at Shop 10, 26 Eastwood Park Road, Kingston 10, on September 17.
The new location is expected to extend the organisation's reach and provide a more comfortable environment for consultations and services scheduled by appointment. Currently, beneficiaries are referred for fittings via employment agencies, vocational training centres and agencies, HEART Trust/NTA, universities, women centres and non-government organisations.
Beneficiary Marcia Allen was outfitted for her interview with a private-sector company in Kingston during 2011.
"Before Dress for Success, there was no hope. I heard about it on television and so I called and got an appointment. They taught me how to be confident and positive, and I learned how to talk to with the interviewers and carry myself," Allen explained.
"I got the job," she exclaimed, adding that, on confirming her employment, she was also provided with a full week's wardrobe free of cost. Having been a beneficiary, Allen now volunteers with the organisation and has referred more than 20 needy clients during the past year.
Dress for Success chairman, Patricia Sutherland reiterated the importance of helping persons who have opportunities to take full advantage of them. "Many are willing, able and eager to enter the work environment, and, with this type of support, are likely to have more success," she added.
General Manager of JNBS Foundation Saffrey Brown says that the effect of having access to these services goes beyond the aspiring professional.
"With the opening of the boutique, suits and separates can now be properly catalogued and stored for easier consultation, fitting and distribution to clients. However, the real impact will be seen in the life-changing potential that comes when clients are able to successfully acquire jobs and become economically independent."
Brown maintains that, "Economic achievement will be felt not only at the individual level; but also in the increased financial stability of the family unit at the community level and in national productivity measures."
Sutherland told the gathering at the opening that job interviews are often nerve-wracking even for the most prepared and qualified candidates. Add the stress of lacking the proper attire to attend the interview and, chances are, many underprivileged persons opt out of their opportunity to be successfully placed in a job.
"The reality is that, if you already have scarce financial resources, you are less likely to be able to prioritise spending on the attire expected of employers hosting you for an interview. Getting a job requires more than just being qualified, it's about how you present yourself physically and otherwise," she declared.
This is one of the primary reasons that Dress for Success Jamaica, with the help of its volunteers and suit donors, has been outfitting interviewees and promoting self-sufficiency among women since July 2009.
In addition to providing work attire, accessories and shoes acquired through public and private 'suit drives,' the organisation supports the professional and personal development of women through training and counselling and mentorship.
CAPTION: Mary Smith (second right), director of Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation, and Patricia Sutherland (right), chairman of Dress for Success Jamaica (DSJ), cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of Dress for Success Jamaica boutique on Monday, September 17. Witnessing the opening are Minette Bryan (left), programme coordinator, DSJ; Charmaine Lewis (second left), founder, (from left, back row) Brenda Thomas, a volunteer; Anna-Kim Robinson, project officer, JNBS Foundation, and Gayon Knight, another Dress for Success volunteer. PHOTOS Contributed