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Clothing closet boosts job prospects for the homeless

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
October 29, 2011
— Decked out in a stylish blazer and matching dress slacks, Jean strode confidently into a recent job interview.

Feeling self-assured is always a little easier when you have professional business attire.


But Jean’s ensemble didn’t come from her own closet. It came from the House of Mercy’s new women’s interview clothing closet.


The closet is part of a program that takes donations of women’s businesswear that might be appropriate for job interviews.


Nearly all donations—sweaters, blazers, blouses, skirts, outfits and business suits—are on hangers on two pipe rods the length of the closet, which is organized by a House of Mercy volunteer.


Slacks, some of which are brand new with original price tags, are arranged by size before being neatly folded and stacked. Tubs of dress scarves and hose sit on shelves while shoes, hats and mittens sit in storage containers on the floor.


The program got a shot in the arm last May thanks to members of Alpha Delta Kappa, Chi Chapter, sorority. During an annual meeting of the Women’s Fund, sorority members heard a plea for donations of professional clothing.


“All of us kind of looked at each other and said, ‘This is for us,’” said Kitty Hinaus, sorority spokesperson.


“This is kind of like a perfect fit. So many of us are retired, and like so many people, cleaning out our closets and realizing we have clothes too nice to throw away. We also have a lot of professional clothes because we’re retired teachers,’’ she said.


The sorority made its first donation in August, and Hinaus delivered more items earlier this week.


“It will be a monthly altruistic project we do,” she said. “It’s heartwarming to know you have something you can donate to someone that will help them get a job, help them with their self concept and feel better about trying to go out and find a job and work.”


According to Loveland, the interview closet could use more accessories—jewelry, watches and scarves, stockings and dark-colored tights.


“Belts are always good, too,” she said. “That way if the clothing item fits in length but not around the waist, you can bring it in a little bit.”


TO HELP

To donate to the House of Mercy homeless center’s new women’s interview clothing closet, call Erin Loveland, volunteer coordinator, at (608) 754-0045.



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