ShareThis Page
News

Used clothing from YWCA helps women get jobs

Mary Pickels
| Saturday, April 28, 2012, 4:08 a.m.

When Rachel Shirey was called to interview for a job with Greensburg call center Xentel, she quickly made an appointment with Dorie Fuchs, coordinator of a YWCA business attire program.

After Shirey was hired, Fuchs helped her pick out a wardrobe for her first week on her new job.

"Dorie did an excellent job," Shirey said. "She picked out all my clothes. I looked very professional. I'm very thankful for the program.

"When I walked out of there I was very excited," she said. "I wouldn't have had anything to wear the next day, my first day of work. I went from jeans and T-shirts to business-looking types of things."

Shirey, 22, a single mother from New Stanton, said she had shopped at the YWCA Thrift Shop in Greensburg, particularly for play clothes for her two children. She was unaware the YWCA PA Workwear resource for working women existed until she was referred by the Private Industry Council of Westmoreland-Fayette Inc.

That agency is one of several that send qualified female job hunters and those newly employed to the YWCA program.

Last summer the state Department of Public Welfare requested the YWCA expand its existing Working Women's Closet to include women countywide in welfare and job training programs.

Under the former state program, women were provided vouchers to purchase their own clothing, said Linda Blanchette, deputy secretary for income management for the state Department of Public Welfare.

"One of the pieces missing for us was whether or not they were getting the clothing they really needed," Blanchette said. "One of the benefits to the Commonwealth is we know our participants are getting the guidance they need to select clothing appropriate for their jobs."

A personal shopper of sorts, Fuchs helps the women select flattering clothing, and suggests accessories including jewelry and purses.

The partnership also allows administration of the program at a lower cost, because most Workwear partners receive clothing donations. The program has been established in 56 counties so far, Blanchette said. Each partner's annual budget and expected number of clients determine the state's financial contribution.

Women approved for participation are provided interview clothing and a week's wardrobe after securing employment.

Donations sought

The expansion has stretched the program's resources, Fuchs said. Donations of business attire (suits, blazers), white blouses, button-down shirts, khaki and black slacks, polo shirts, socks, stockings, shoes (casual and dress) and purses are needed.

Some women might require nonskid shoes or steel-toed work boots, or cold weather gear if they will be doing outdoor work.

Especially sought are scrubs, as many unemployed women are training for careers in health care.

"Personal care homes are biggies," said thrift store director Cathy Young.

The Working Women's Closet existed for at least 10 years, Young said, before partnering with the state.

"Now we are countywide," Young said. "Before it was just local women."

"I have a lot of women coming from New Kensington and Apollo," Fuchs said.

As many as 30 women a month may be referred to the program, Fuchs said. She typically dresses 20 or more. Some women are no-shows, or have transportation problems.

It's not always an easy sell, she admitted. Some women resist shopping from a selection of used clothing.

"Let me tell you something," Young said, nodding at Fuchs, "we're all sitting here in used clothing."

"They don't get dressed here, they don't get dressed," Young said.

"A lot of them look around and they are amazed at what they can buy. They can't believe what quality they can get for the amount of money," Fuchs said. "They come back to shop for themselves and their kids."

Some participants later drop off clothing of their own, in an effort to help other women.

"So they do give back," Young said.

Seeing women emerge from the dressing room with smiles on their faces is Fuchs' reward.

What she seldom learns is the women's fate after they collect their new wardrobe and begin their new jobs.

"That's what I would love to have," she said, "that piece of the puzzle."

Additional Information:

What to donate

Donations to YWCA PA Workwear must be interview-appropriate, clean, contemporary and on hangers with sizes pinned to the garments. Sizes 2 through 3X are needed. Additionally, gently worn interview-appropriate shoes in any size are accepted. Donated clothing is tax-deductible. The clothing resource is located in the YWCA Thrift Shop, 221 S. Maple Ave., Greensburg.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me