There are a number of organizations that attest to the virtue of work, and the dignity it instills in those of us who find ourselves in need of both. Working Wardrobes, a nonprofit organization founded in 1990, is special, not because of their belief in the same, but because of their dedication to actively helping people find – and prepare for – the easier-said-than-done task of gaining employment.
Recently, Her Majesty’s Jewels (HerMJ.com) was honored to join our designer friends at our Tuesday roundtable in an effort to contribute to Working Wardrobes (WW). Shelby Hicks drew our attention to WW’s mission, and as a result, we created an assortment of jewelry designed for our donation to the organization’s mission of preparing their clients for the vital, and life-changing event: the job interview.
Although our offerings could not prove to be nearly as valuable as the vocational training, wardrobe selection, and interview preparation for which the group is known, we did take pleasure in the fact that a respective candidate would be given the opportunity to pair a new necklace with their ensemble and perhaps introduce that one additional sparkle of confidence. And it would be offered as our loving gift.
At the conclusion of the crafting of the jewelry, we sat down with Shelby, who volunteered at the Working Wardrobes headquarters, and we discussed the event in depth. As a result, we decided that it would be of value to share her experience, and possibly give some perspective and motivation as to what you could anticipate in the event of your own participation.
A Volunteer’s Experience
HERMJ: How did you hear about Working Wardrobes?
Shelby: My company, loanDepot, does team-building events about twice a year, and this year we decided it would be Working Wardrobes. We wanted to do something that gave back to the working people, and to help them get jobs. It was more fulfilling than anything else we have done.
HERMJ: Can you tell us about Working Wardrobes directly from the vantage point of a volunteer?
Shelby: With your help, we donated well over 40 pieces of jewelry to the Working Wardrobes’ warehouse. loanDepot donated clothing our IT department gathered over three weeks. It all would be used by the highly-skilled professionals at Working Wardrobes, who prepare and dress the candidates from head-to-toe with suits, jewelry, handbags, and shoes for their upcoming job interviews.
WW has a lot of programs that they offer to people referred to them by shelters and organization-approved Charities. Everything is free to the graduates, who are given access to computers, email accounts to apply for positions online, and training programs on how to write their resumes. They’re given the opportunity to participate in mock interviews in order to make them comfortable and well-prepared. They even get specific classes on customer service.
When they graduate, they are assigned a personal shopper to outfit them for their much-anticipated job interview.
The men are assigned suits and dressed from head-to-toe. WW’s clothing is even donated from some of the 3-day Suit Stores. That alone may present a candidate with something they may not have had the good fortune to own – a suit.
“It’s really heart-warming to see Working Wardrobes give out gift bags to their graduates, who receive grooming products like toothbrushes, deodorant – things we all need, and many of us take for granted.”
HERMJ: How is all that managed?
Shelby: It’s like a university for getting a job; they have multiple things going on at the same time. In addition to the warehouse space where they house all the donations, there are also classroom settings and computer labs. You walk into a room and see signs on the wall such as “Dignity”… they truly want people to empower themselves to find work. They want them to feel good about themselves because you can’t present themselves well if they don’t have all of the tools.
A Strong Foundation
Now in its 26th year, Working Wardrobes serves clients from a broad range of experiences, such as alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence, transitional homelessness, and catastrophic illness. Referred from the CalWORKS program, social service agencies and 50 shelters/programs in Orange County, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, clients number over 85,000 have benefited from the dedicated volunteers at Working Wardrobes, whose awards and accolades include the 2010 National Philanthropy Day Outstanding Founder Award, 2009 Orange County Charity of the Year Award from OC Weekly and 2007 Social Enterprise First Pioneer Award.
Working Wardrobes also is an advocate of social enterprise, operating The Hanger Resale Boutiques with locations in Tustin and Laguna Niguel. One hundred percent of proceeds from The Hanger boutiques benefit the clients served by Working Wardrobes, making up 35 percent of the organization’s funding. More information can be found at https://www.workingwardrobes.org/shop/boutiques/.
So Many Ways to Give
You can get involved with Working Wardrobes in a variety of ways. The support you provide is so critically important to the success of their clients by helping them overcome difficult life challenges, find meaningful employment, and achieve self-sufficiency.
Working Wardrobes Success Partners
Become a Working Wardrobes Success Partner today by committing to ongoing monthly financial contributions to their organization. Your sustainable monthly donations are essential in transforming the lives of thousands of at-risk men, women, young adults, and Veterans who desperately need – and want – our help!
Become a Success Partner here.
All Working Wardrobes volunteers successfully help them achieve their social mission – empowering people to find jobs they love. Volunteering is a great way to become empowered, make a direct impact, build friendships, learn new skills, increase employee morale, and boost team spirit.
Find out how you can become a volunteer here.
HerMJ thanks Shelby, her team at loanDepot, our friends at our Tuesday design roundtable, and most of all, the inspiring people at Working Wardrobes for providing us with an experience that unified the dignity of work with the honor of giving.