Helping Women in Northwest Arkansas Dress for Success

Suiting up helps women succeed in getting jobs and supporting their families.

Jan 7, 2020

Job hunting is an art. You have to have the right resume and the right look to fit into the company culture and land the perfect job.

Many women have a closet full of work outfits but for many women in Northwest Arkansas, a proper suit to go to a job interview is out of their financial reach.

Anca Hornyak, a single mother, was in that boat when she finished her master's degree at the University of Arkansas according to NWA Fox News. She was referred to Dress for Success, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women break the cycle of poverty to help provide her with the necessary skills, a network of support, and professional attire to aid her job hunt.

“It obviously made me feel very great to know that some people are very interested in helping me; to help me succeed in life and being a part of my, in a way, my future job,” Hornyak told NWA Fox News.

Besides help with writing resumes and being coached on interviewing skills, the programs clients also go through what the nonprofit calls a suiting process with an image consultant.

“You wanna’ have a smile,” Alqueeah Cates who is an image consultant with Dress for Success said. “You wanna’ make sure they [the clients] feel welcome, because a lot of these women are coming into an environment that they’ve never put on a suit before. They’ve never had attire that makes them feel professional or makes them feel empowered.”

She explained, “When you put that suit on that person, you bag it up and you send her [the client] out the door, you’re actually sending her out to be successful.”

Just going to Dress for Success, means that women are taking the first step to empower themselves according to board member Gretchen Laffoon. “And we’re just here to help you continue with that journey and to give you more tools and more resources, so that you can really be the best you can be.”

The organization is part of 150 Dress for Success Affiliates around the world. The Northwest Arkansas chapter has helped over 1,800 women.

The women come from all walks of life according to Executive Director Virginia Germann. Some are escaping domestic abuse or other bad situations and others are looking to re-enter the workforce after raising their families. She said that it doesn't matter why the women come but all leave feeling valued, worthy and empowered to take care of their families.

Other organizations, like a library in New York City, also provide work attire or accessories and volunteers or donations of gently used items are always needed.

For the women who use their services, Dress for Success is a lifeline that helps women feel empowered and become financially independent and this improves their lives, their family's lives, and their communities.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.