After four years of providing proper attire for underprivileged women to tackle their first interview, Dress for Success Jamaica has finally found a permanent home.
With funding from the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation, Dress for Success opened a boutique at 26 Eastwood Park Road, 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. Beneficiaries are currently referred for fittings via employment agencies, vocational training centres, Heart Trust/NTA, universities, women centres and non-governmental organisations.
"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," declared Patricia Sutherland, chairman of Dress for Success Jamaica.
In addition to providing work attire, accessories and shoes, acquired through 'suit drives', the organisation supports the professional and personal development of women through training and counselling, and mentorship.
"At its core, the programme is about job-readiness and making sure that candidates are equipped to successfully enter the workforce and positively contribute to society," she added.
Beneficiary Marcia Allen was outfitted for her interview with a private-sector company in Kingston in 2011.
"Before Dress for Success, it was like 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 the interviewers and carry myself," she explained.
"I got the job," she exclaimed, adding that on confirming her employment, she was also provided 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.
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. 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."
CAPTION: From left: Founder of Dress for Success Jamaica (DFSJ) Charmaine Lewis; programme coordinator Minette Bryan; director, Jamaica Building Society (JNBS) foundation, Mary Smith; DFSJ volunteer Beverly Moses, and Patricia Sutherland, chairman of Dress for Success, admire a suit at the official opening of DFSJ's boutique on September 17. Dress for Success Jamaica received grant funding from the JNBS Foundation to establish the boutique which is located at 26 Eastwood Park Road to provide professional attire and career-readiness training to disadvantaged women seeking to enter the working world. - Contributed