GIVE BACK: Dress for Success Houston & Donation EventMonday, May 16, 2016
This week I'll be co-hosting a donation event for Dress for Success Houston with L'eggs! L'eggs is the national partner this year for Dress for Success Worldwide. L'eggs reached out to me to see if I'd be interested in hosting a sponsored party where my guests could bring donations for Dress for Success. I love giving back, and who doesn't love a party? I was more than eager to jump on board and host an event. The event will be held this Wednesday, May 18th at Houston's newest Asian Bistro and Lounge, Tarakaan. There will be complimentary cocktails, hor's doeuvres and swag from L'eggs. We are asking that each guest bring an item(s) off of the donation guidelines posted below. For more information on the event and to RSVP please visit bit.ly/StylePassItOn.
In preparation for the event, I was invited to stop by the Dress for Success Houston headquarters and participate in their Mother's Day Brunch. The brunch was held for their clients and their children. Food for the brunch was sponsored by HEB and it was yummy! My favorite part was the yogurt parfait bar. The brunch event also had art and craft stations, makeup stations, face-painting and a photo booth. Retired NFL Player, Wade Smith of the Houston Texans, stopped by to speak to the group about his new children's book and how much of an influence his mother had on his life. Prior to the brunch, Lauren Levicki Courville, the Vice President of DFS-Houston gave me a tour of the facilities and provided me with additional information on the organization and their programs. I met so many wonderful people from the full-time staff & volunteers, to the clients and their children.
|Entry to the First Suitors area.|
Dress for Success Houston has been around since 1998, however their brand new headquarters building is only 4 years old. The move into the new building provided them with the additional space needed to expand their programs and service more women. During my tour, Lauren took me to the different areas of the building starting with the suiting room. The suiting program is probably the most recognizable program that Dress for Success Houston has to offer. DFS-Houston suits women that are referred to them from close to 200 organizations. Organizations like Houston Area Women's Center, Goodwill, Work Force Solutions, etc, refer low-income and job-ready women to DFS-Houston. Job-ready, as defined by DFS, means they are going on an interview, attending a career fair or graduating and going to an internship.
The women's first appointment is 2 hours. During the first hour they work with a volunteer personal shopper to find their perfect suit. Each client receives a full pant or skirt suit, a blouse, closed-toed shoes, a scarf, handbag, and a set of pearls. They receive everything they need to walk into the interview and land the job. During the 2nd hour they attend first impressions. First impressions is a program that helps the ladies prepare themselves for interviews. Topics around "What does your social media look like?" come up in first impressions.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the organization. DFS-Houston has a full-time staff of only 12 people. The volunteers help them service the plethora of women that come through the doors. In 2015 alone, they serviced over 2600 women and donated over 12,000 hours of service. DFS-Houston is always looking for more volunteers. There are plenty of jobs to be done as a volunteer. You can be a personal shopper, merchandiser, assist with the professional women's groups, assist in call backs and more. If you are interested in volunteering you can reach out to Lindsey Norlander, the Volunteer Program Manager and find out how you can help!
Of course there's another way to help! Donate, donate, donate! 60% of DFS-Houston's inventory is donated. Every item is ticketed and tagged and equivalates up to $850,000 a year of inventory to manage. And even if you donate something that they can't use, for instance they don't use high-end clothes and accessories, because they want the women to focus on being professional and not the labels, they work with other organizations to give those items too, such as the Catholic Charities Guild Shop. Donations that aren't used at Dress for Success make up roughly 70% of the boutiques inventory.
You can also join Women of Wardrobe or W.O.W. Joining W.O.W. is a yearly committment of $100.00 and attending the events for the year. The W.O.W. events help raise funds for DFS-Houston and help bring awareness.
Through the help of their volunteers and organizations like W.O.W. , 51% of the 2600 women that were serviced last year received jobs. This is up from only 37% in 2014 and 24% in 2013. What has changed? DFS-Houston as included a interview packages in the interview preparation courses. These packages include thank you cards and other items to follow-up on the job that you want. They also do call-backs now. After a women comes in and receives her first suit, they call back after a week or two to see where they are in their job hunt journey.
Just because you land the job, doesn't mean your time with DFS-Houston is over. If you land the job you're able to come back for second suiting. Personal shoppers help the women pick out 8 new items that they can mix and match to have clothes for 2 weeks. And if they participate in the free professional women's groups they'll be able to pick items throughout the year to build an entire wardrobe. They'll also leave with additional tools like job retention, mentor-ship, health and wellness, professional speakers series, & financial & legal literacy. Everything they need to not only land the job but build a pathway for a career.
|Marathon Volunteer's Room|
|Thank you note from clients to the volunteers.|
|Awesome support from local ladies of the media!|
|Nancy Levicki, co-founder of Dress for Success Houston and the namesake of the building!|
|There's a nice DFS-Houston timeline wall upstairs.|
|How gorgeous is this outdoor terrace?|
|Arts & Crafts: Mother's Day Card making|
|Fabulous Mother-Daughter duo! Someone had their face painted! I'm not gonna lie...I was kind of jealous. Haha|
|Vice President Lauren Levicki Courville and Houston Texan's Wade Smith|
|Group photo with Wade Smith|