Dress for Success Lexington is always looking for volunteers in all capacities. This includes mentoring, organizing clothing, “suiting” clients, and many other areas. Before and during our quarterly clothing sales, we need large groups of volunteers. If you want to volunteer occasionally or on a regular schedule, you’re welcome at Dress for Success Lexington.
The mission of Dress for Success Lexington is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
“It is so awesome to have wonderful people that want you to be successful.”
Dress for Success Lexington client after her interview suiting
Dress for Success Lexington is a local affiliate of Dress for Success®. Dress for Success Worldwide, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, was founded in New York City in 1997 as an answer to the needs of women who seek employment and self-sufficiency. Over the past 20 years, Dress for Success has grown into a thriving international not-for-profit organization that has supported more than 975,000 women at 145 affiliates in 22 countries.
Dress for Success Lexington was founded in 2013 by two Lexington women eager to bring the opportunities offered by Dress for Success to women in the Lexington community. Worldwide provides a supportive network, project ideas, occasional funding opportunities, but no ongoing financial support to affiliates.
Women come to Dress for Success Lexington by referral from community-based social service agencies and non-profit organizations. At her first individual appointment, each client is introduced to the services offered in the Career Center. A needs assessment is conducted to determine a plan of action that meets each client's individual needs. Then the client meets with a stylist who selects an interview suit and accessories for her. When she successfully lands the job, she returns for an “Employment Suiting” consisting of a week's worth of additional job-appropriate attire.
The suit is just the beginning of how we help women thrive in work and life. In addition to being suited by Dress for Success Lexington, each client is given access to our Career Center, which offers critical tools essential to retaining her job and advancing in today’s highly competitive workforce. Our clients can achieve economic independence through relevant career workshops, one-on-one job coaching and computer access.
“ . . . and from that moment, I just felt different. I felt good about myself.”
October 2016 was Dress for Success Lexington’s third anniversary, and we celebrated serving over 400 women. Our 30 partner agencies refer women to us at a steady pace. Some of our clients have been homeless, leaving abusive situations, or trying to enter the workforce for the first time in a long time, and it takes a multi-agency effort to help them reach their goals.
During the past year, we provided hundreds of individual appointments where women received help with resumes, job searches, mock interviews, and professional clothing for interviews and new jobs.
We also provided classes and workshops. Thanks to a grant from the Walmart Foundation, five cohorts of 8-10 women each completed the Going Places Network (GPN) curriculum, an 8-week program that focuses on soft skills and job search support, with 67% of our most recent GPN cohort members securing new jobs.
We continued to offer the popular monthly “Lunch and Learn” workshops. Recent topics included financial literacy, expungement guidelines in Kentucky, using Linked-In, and many others.
Our fundraising accomplishments in 2016 included Dress for Success Lexington's signature event Recycle the Runway and our quarterly clothing sales of excess inventory. Business partners have donated portions of sales, and we participate in many local and national fundraising efforts.
Dress for Success Lexington board members set the following goals for 2016-2019:
(1) Increase fundraising by 20% over the previous year,
(2) Improve overall awareness and perception of the organization,
(3) Increase volunteer participation and maintain Executive Director/Board consistency of at least 7 members, and
(4) Increase client volume by 30% and improve return on investment of client services.
(1) Professional clothing: We are grateful for the tremendous in-kind donations of clothing that we receive weekly. We also need funds to purchase clothing for clients when our donations are not sufficient. Donations are available, by appointment, on Thursdays from 1-4 by calling our office at 859-231-7848, and guidelines are on our website and Facebook page. We have an ongoing need for volunteers to sort the clothing, assist our clients with “suitings”, and organize quarterly sales of clothing that is too fancy or casual to use in our Suiting Program. Major areas of need are plus-size clothing and wide-width shoes.
(2) Programs/services: Monetary donations go towards programs such as the upcoming Professional Women’s Group for our clients who have found employment and could benefit from additional professional development and continued contact with a supportive network. Volunteers work with individual clients, speak at workshops and classes, mentor clients, and help organize programs and fundraising. In-kind contributions of office supplies and portfolios for our clients are very helpful.
(3) We rely entirely on donations and fundraising for the ongoing expenses to keep Dress for Success Lexington operating including rent, utilities, and salary for our only employee, the Executive Director. Our volunteers, board members and executive director work on numerous fundraisers including Recycle the Runway, quarterly sales, and partnering with local businesses. We are eager to partner with more businesses and individuals interested in helping improve the lives of women and their families.
“Support, kindness, a place to go for confidence. Thank you so much. My home life and former partner was a very hard place. Thank you for helping me.”
Dress for Success Lexington's overall goal is to assist women in our community who are unemployed or have low incomes by providing quality services, including professional attire and career education, to help them find a job, build a career, and achieve self-defined success. We reach out to women in difficult situations who want to improve their lives.
The driving force behind a successful affiliate, in addition to volunteers and funding, is the referrals we receive from our partner agencies. We rely on these agencies to identify women who may be in need of our services. Strengthening the relationships we have with these agencies enables us to address the issues of unemployment and job sustainability from a collaborative, rather than competitive, standpoint.
Without volunteers, Dress for Success Lexington simply would not be able to fulfill our mission. In order to grow, we know that we need to increase the number of regular volunteers who are a part of Dress for Success Lexington to assist in all aspects of the organization. As a result, we plan to identify a new Volunteer Coordinator in order to increase our number of active volunteers and improve volunteer communications, recruitment and engagement.
Key indicators of success involve engaging more referral agencies who send women to our suiting program, increasing the number of clients served, and increasing the number of clients who are achieving self-defined success (some examples have been, but are not limited to: obtaining a job after attending the GPN workshops, receiving promotions and salary increases, getting out of a dead end job, and pursuing educational goals).
We look forward to opportunities for new ideas and growth in 2016. We feel confident that with the experiences of the past year, and under the guidance of our new board, we can begin the implementation of a new three-year strategic plan that will enable us to make an even bigger impact on the women in our community as we move forward.
Dress for Success Lexington Board members set the following four goals for 2016-2019:
(2) Improve overall awareness and perception of the organization,
Strategies are directly related to goals.
Goal 1: Increase monetary donations through increased event revenues, increased donor giving, and increased grant applications.
Goal 2: Be visible in the community by participating in community events, forming additional partnerships, and hosting events.
Goal 3: Demonstrate and communicate the value of participation by acquiring a volunteer coordinator, updating the volunteer recruitment materials, and increasing the ED’s salary.
Goal 4: Launch and market new services including the Professional Women’s Group, promote the organization at events, and maintain and improve relationships with referral agencies.
A recent SWOT analysis by members of the Board identified these strengths and capabilities:
--Quality 1-on-1 interactions with clients
--Welcoming environment including “no judgment zone”
--Outreach and promotion of the organization
Indicators of progress involve year-to-year comparisons of the following:
Goal 1: Fundraising total and analysis of individual events
Goal 2: Listing of events hosted or participated
Goal 3: Number of volunteers and volunteer hours, listing of board members
Goal 4: Number of women served and their employment rates
The goals and indicators were put in place in January 2016. Members
of the board determined that we met or exceeded expected progress for
Goal 2. With the move at the end of the year, and the loss of our Career Center Coordinator and GPN Coordinator, we fell short of our remaining goals. 193 individual women were served in 2016, slightly down from the previous year. Our total volunteer base dipped slightly, with 167 volunteers participating in events and working with clients, however the number of active clients was only a few volunteers less than the previous year. We feel confident that our new location will enable us to serve more women in a much more efficient way, which will increase our numbers across the board in 2017.
Analisa grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, graduated from the University of Kentucky, and after living in the metropolitan areas of Alexandria, VA and Atlanta, GA, returned to Lexington 14 years ago. While in Atlanta she served as a special events director for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, was the US. Training and Education manager for an Australian company, volunteered for the Center for the Visually Impaired, and taught therapeutic horseback riding at Chastain Horsepark in Buckhead. Returning to Lexington, she spent several years as Sales Director for a large thoroughbred consignor, then served as Director of a Fine Arts gallery in downtown Lexington. In addition to her ties to the thoroughbred horse industry in Lexington, she is also an active member of the Downtown Lexington Corporation (DLC). She continues to be involved with several local nonprofit organizations where she has assisted with fundraising events and auctions, including Bluegrass Farm Charities, The Thorobred Club, The American Heart Association (AHA), the Lexington Art League, and the newly formed non-profit, Art Connects.
“This is the place to feel great about yourself. The people are great. I love it.”
--Dress for Success Lexington client and Going Places Network member
First impressions are important, and for women living in poverty, it can be difficult to achieve a professional appearance that impresses interviewers and employers. Very few of our clients have ever owned a suit or dressed professionally for an interview. The Suiting Program at Dress for Success Lexington is designed to remove the economic barriers to looking and feeling professional and confident when interviewing for a job.
The Suiting Program has two parts: the interview suiting and the employment suiting. A volunteer “stylist” selects appropriate clothing and accessories for the client’s job interview. The transformations are amazing. After a client succeeds at getting a job, the client returns to our offices to be fitted with a week’s worth of clothing that’s appropriate for her new job.
Dress for Success Lexington provides more than stylish, job appropriate outfits. The Career Center gives clients knowledge and tools about how to enter the workforce and thrive in a job.
Each client begins her relationship with Dress for Success Lexington in the Career Center with a volunteer who asks the client to discuss her work and education history and goals and what she needs to be successful in job interviews. The volunteer and client develop a plan for assistance with things such as resume preparation, online job search strategies, and mock interviews. After about 30 minutes and having set when and how the client will follow up with the Career Center, she goes on to her interview suiting.
The Career Center offers professional workshops and training sessions including the popular “Lunch and Learn” monthly series. The center has several computers for clients to use in their job search efforts or to complete online trainings and certifications.
Sometimes it's the little things that help you get ahead - a dress suit, someone to spell check your résumé, or tips on how to introduce yourself with confidence. Your donations will help provide professional attire for women to wear to job interviews, a week's worth of job appropriate attire once they're gainfully employed, facilitate career-development and networking meetings, help run financial-literacy sessions, and more!
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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499 East High Street, Lexington, KY 40507