May 31, 2020

Winnipeg
12° C, Mainly clear

Full Forecast

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Opinion

Making women look and feel great

Dress For Success provides support, professional attire to help clients get into workforce

Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Jane Martens (from left), Susan Taillieu and Tannis Johnston volunteer with Dress For Success, a program that helps disadvantaged women by providing them with professional business clothing for job interviews.</p>

Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press

Jane Martens (from left), Susan Taillieu and Tannis Johnston volunteer with Dress For Success, a program that helps disadvantaged women by providing them with professional business clothing for job interviews.

Ask Susan Taillieu for a memory that sticks out from her volunteer work and she has trouble narrowing it down to one.

"I don’t think we’ve ever had clients where it wasn’t a meaningful experience," she says.

Taillieu volunteers at Dress For Success Winnipeg. Located at the South Winnipeg Family Information Centre in Fort Garry, the program promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing them with professional business clothing for job interviews.

Taillieu was serving on the centre’s board when the program began in February 1997 under the name the Clothes Closet. "I think it was a service that was needed and I just wanted to be part of that service," she says. "They haven’t been able to get rid of me since."

The Clothes Closet changed its name to Dress For Success Winnipeg at the beginning of November after becoming an affiliate of Dress For Success, an international organization that has 150 affiliates in 30 countries.

In Winnipeg, women are referred to the program through a network of 65 job-training and social-service agencies throughout the city.

About 60 volunteers outfit more than 400 women each year.

Volunteers welcome clients and assist them in selecting an interview outfit, including footwear, jewelry, accessories and outerwear.

Volunteering with the program is a good fit for Jane Martens, who is passionate about clothes.

"I love making women look great and feel great," Martens says, adding people don’t always realize the potential for their looks and what sorts of outfits are available to them. "It gives them a whole new self-image and confidence they need to walk into a new work situation."

Throughout the process of working with clients, volunteers offer a lot of encouragement, Tannis Johnston says.

"We always have clients walk away with a smile on their face," she says. "It’s always good to see someone go off with more self-esteem than when they came in. It grows on you. You kind of get addicted to it and you want to come back for more."

Volunteers are crucial to Dress For Success Winnipeg, according to Tricia Robinson, the centre’s executive director. "We wouldn’t be able to do the things that we do without volunteers," she says, adding she regularly receives feedback from women who have visited Dress For Success.

"Often, we hear that they’ve been able to get a job, so it’s really making a difference in the lives of women across the city," Robinson says.

Dress For Success volunteers fulfil different roles, depending on their availability and interest. They may choose to work with clients, assist with sorting and processing clothing donations or help with the semi-annual clothing sale.

aaron.epp@gmail.com

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us